A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced eight people including an American to up to a year in prison Monday after being convicted in connection to a satirical video about youth culture in Dubai. The video they produced and uploaded to the Internet was a spoof documentary of would-be "gangsta" youth in the Gulf Arab city-state.
Turki al-Hamad paid a heavy price for a tweet. Last year the novelist told his followers that Islam as practiced in Saudi Arabia was not the "message of love" preached by the Prophet Muhammad. The outcome was six months in prison without trial. Conditions were immeasurably better than when he was detained in the 1970s, but the hazards of speaking out in the digital age were still painfully clear.
Rarely covered in the English-speaking press because of its past as a Portuguese colony, the behavior of the government in Angola is becoming increasingly troubling. Crony capitalism isn't rare on the African continent—or indeed anywhere else in the world—but Angola's iteration is particularly extreme. Following a civil war that ran on and off from the nation's independence from Portugal in 1975 all the way to 2002, Angola’s elite—overseen by 71-year old President José Eduardo dos Santos—has fed greedily at a trough of oil and gas.
IranWire, a website run by the Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari, reports the unsurprising news that some officials in Tehran are not looking forward to seeing Jon Stewart’s new film, “Rosewater,” which was adapted from Mr. Bahari’s memoir about living through Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election.
Shanghai is a city that connotes modernity and rapid economic development. Its inhabitants are known both within and without its confines as upwardly mobile, career-oriented, and financially minded. Tourists come to see bright lights on East Nanjing road and the lavishness of the Bund, both symbols of recent industrialization. What the city lacks, it is commonly believed, is historical and artistic culture.
This week, Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, was quoted as saying during a speech in Washington: "We can end government censorship in a decade. The solution to government surveillance is to encrypt everything." Earlier this week, we at greatfire.org successfully unblocked the Reuters Chinese website, which had been blocked on 15 November. We also unblocked the China Digital Times website, which has been blocked in China for years and earlier this month created mirrors for our FreeWeibo project.
Like torture and curfews, book banning in Brazil went out with the military dictatorship almost 30 years ago. Back then, intellectuals, artists, and politicians hailed the end of the long night of authoritarian rule (1964 to 1985) with a burst of creativity and civic commotion. É proibido proibir—“Prohibition is prohibited,”—proclaimed singer and songwriter Caetano Veloso, who was censored under the military and spent years in exile. Veloso’s slogan became the meme for the new era of democratic liberty.
Two weeks ago we looked at Beijing's continuing efforts to maintain control of both its mainstream and social media scene. This week, we delve deeper into the country's relationship with the international media and the concerns authorities have inside China about how the country is covered from the outside. On November 7, it was reported that the US-based financial news agency, Bloomberg, had self-censored reports on the business ties of senior government officials because of the implications the stories could have on Bloomberg's working relationships within the country.