Lawfare Update: Pakistani Foreign Minister advises U.S. to rethink free speech, Egypt to try U.S. citizen and 7 others over anti-Islam film, and more
LP Director Brooke Goldstein debates Mark Hannah (former campaign aide for John Kerry and President Barack Obama) on free speech protections on America Live with Megyn Kelly. Watch here.
Goldstein discusses free speech and the film Innocence of Muslims on SunTV. Watch here.
The Nation (September 22, 2012)
In an interview with CNN, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar opined that the United States needs to rethink its concept of free speech. “It is not good enough to say it’s free speech, it should be allowed,” said Khar. “I think if this does provoke action against American citizens or Americans anywhere in the world, then maybe we do need to rethink how much freedom is OK.” Khar added, “[W]e have to be sensitive to religious sensitivities,” but declined to “go deeper into discussion” when an interviewer noted the absence of demonstrations and violence in the Arab and Muslim world in response to negative speech about other religions, such as Christianity and Judaism.
French Cartoons Inflame Prophet Film Tensions
BusinessWeek (September 19, 2012)
Amidst international controversy over the film Innocence of Muslims, a French weekly magazine has printed cartoons ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, prompting the French to tighten security at their Middle East embassies and take other precautionary measures. The controversial magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was firebombed last year after releasing an edition that mocked radical Islam.
Egypt to Try US Citizen, Seven Others Over Anti-Islam Video
The Hill (September 18, 2012)
Last week, Egypt’s general prosecutor issued arrest warrants for Florida Pastor Terry Jones and seven Coptic Christian Egyptians allegedly linked to the film Innocence of Muslims. The individuals-who have been charged with insulting and publicly attacking Islam, harming national unity, and spreading false information-could face the death penalty (though none are believed to be in Egypt). Jones reportedly promoted a trailer for the movie on the anniversary of the September 11, 2011 attacks.
Iranian-American Group, Leader Lose Libel Case Against Writer
Politico (September 13, 2012)
U.S. District Judge John Bates granted summary judgment for author Seid Hassan Daioleslam, dismissing the libel suit brought by the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC) and its president, Trita Parsi. The plaintiffs filed suit in 2008 in response to Daioleslam’s reporting of Parsi and NIAC’s linkages with the Iranian regime. Judge Bates held that Trita and NIAC had failed to show evidence that Daioleslam’s statements were made with “actual malice,” adding that the ruling did not reach the issue of whether the claims about NIAC and Parsi were true. The court’s decision can be viewed here.
Fort Hood Shooting Suspect’s Beard Must Be Shaved, Military Judge Rules
New York Times (September 6, 2012)
The army has ordered Major Nidal Hasan, the 2009 Fort Hood shooter, to be forcibly shaved, after he grew a beard in prison that violates army protocol. Hasan’s trial has been postponed while his defense attorneys attempt to appeal the verdict on grounds that it violates religious freedoms. Hasan says the beard stems from his sincere Muslim faith, while others see it as a sign of disrespect and an attempt to prevent witnesses from identifying him.
UN Chief Denounces Iran to Its Face Over Calls to Destroy Israel
NBC News (August 30, 2012)
After a Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced Iran’s incitement to terrorism and Holocaust denial. Ki-moon stated that “claiming that Israel does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms is not only wrong, but undermines the very principle we all have pledged to uphold.” The United States and Israel, having urged Ki-moon to boycott the summit, welcomed his subsequent commentary.
Rachel Corrie Verdict: Court Rules Israel Not At Fault In U.S. Activist’s Death
Huffington Post (August 28, 2012)
An Israeli court formally ruled that the Israel Defense Forces were not responsible for the death of Rachel Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist killed by a bulldozer during a 2003 Gaza protest. The Haifa judge claimed that “there is no justification to demand the state pay any damages,” calling Corrie’s death a “regrettable accident” and absolving Israel due to Gaza’s status as a warzone at the time.
The Internet: Command and Control
Financial Times (August 27, 2012)
The UN World Conference on International Telecommunications will convene in Dubai this December. While the conference aims to update international data regulations, some speculate that it might propose anti-free speech legislation as well. The United States and the European Union, however, are wary of giving legislative power to authoritarian regimes who could use vague national security clauses to legitimize government censorship and monitoring. “If new governance rules had been set to tighten the control of the web a few years ago we would have not had an Arab spring,” said one senior EU diplomat.