Category: Free Speech

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders on trial for inciting hate

Geert Wilders Dutch anti-Islamist politician Geert Wilders, who plays a controversial but pivotal role in the formation of a new Dutch government, went on trial on Monday for inciting hatred against Muslims.

Wilders is charged with inciting hate and discrimination against Muslims in comments he made in the media and for insulting Muslims by comparing the Islamic faith to Nazism.

Danish book about the Muhammad cartoons controversy goes ahead despite the usual threats

A book about the publication of cartoons in Denmark that angered Muslims by showing images of the Prophet Muhammad will be released despite recent terror threats, the publisher said Wednesday.

“The book will come out as planned,” said Karsten Blauert, of Jyllands-Posten Editions.

The book, titled “The Tyranny of Silence,” is due out Thursday, five years to the day after the cartoons first appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Our take: Good for them! People in the civilized world can not allow a bunch of barbarians, who claims to act in the name of their religion, to violate their freedom with threats of violence and other acts of terrorism.

Bringing blasphemy back from the dead

Advertising is a free speech issue. To say ‘you can’t say that’ in an advert – to say that mocking Roman Catholicism, no matter how tongue-in-cheek, is not suitable advertising content – is as censorious as excluding a work of art from an exhibition.

‘If you ban our ad’, Antonio Federici’s spokesman told spiked, ‘you might as well ban any controversial story about the church – that’s the logical conclusion’.”

Muslim minister’s media manners plan triggers German storm

A plan by Germany’s first high-level Muslim official to teach manners to the media triggered a storm of outrage Friday, with news editors accusing her of censorship.

Aygul Ozkan, minister of integration in Lower Saxony state, had asked media to sign a charter to abstain from racist reporting.

The draft proposed that signatories ‘use culturally sensitive language,’ educate readers to think ‘interculturally’ and devote news attention to ‘the challenges of integration.’ She suggested leading editors meet in August to publicly sign the charter.

Editors of Lower Saxony newspapers slammed the Ozkan plan.

‘It’s the crassest attempt by any politician for a long time to guide newspapers and the electronic media,’ said Rolf Seelheim, editor of the Nordwest Zeitung in the city of Oldenburg.

Councillor faces inquiry over ‘stupid’ Scientologists tweet

Scientology A councillor is facing a disciplinary hearing after calling the Church of Scientology “stupid” in a post on the Twitter website.

Wales’ public standards watchdog said John Dixon is likely to have breached the code of conduct for local authority members with his short message last year.

Religion News Blog, whose publishers consider Scientology to be a destructive cult, often files news about the organization under the header ‘hate group’ — in light of the cult’s lengthy history of hate- and harassment activities.

4 missionaries charged in Dearborn festival proselytizing

Four Christian missionaries were arraigned today on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace following their June 18 arrest at the Arab International Festival.

Negeen Mayel, 18, of California; Nabeel Qureshi, 29, of Virginia; Paul Rezkalla, 18 of New York, and David Wood, 34, also of New York, face fines of up to $500 each and up to 93 days in jail. Dearborn authorities said the four “chose to escalate their behavior, which appeared well-orchestrated and deliberate” as they handed out religious literature and talking with people at the festival. The woman and three men are members or founders of a group called “Acts 17 Apologetics.”

Festival rules require religious groups to distribute information at paid booths or outside the event. Indeed, Christians who followed the festival’s rules have not encountered problems this year or any other year they attended.

Twin Cities Gay Pride Fest Cannot Bar Evangelist

The Twin Cities Pride Festival cannot prevent an evangelical Christian from passing out Bibles and discussing his views against homosexuality at this weekend’s event, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Twin Cities Pride argued that its rights should take precedence because it’s paying $36,000 to lease Loring Park on the edge of downtown Minneapolis for the two-day event. The group also said Johnson contradicts the festival’s “message of celebration and pride in being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.”

But the judge ruled that the 42-acre park is a public forum, so Johnson’s free-speech rights must be honored. Tunheim said Johnson is entitled to go ahead with his plans as long as he remains undisruptive.

Christian evangelists arrested at Arab festival in the USA

On Friday four Christian men were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly trying to convert Muslims attending the 15th annual Arab International Festival in Dearborn, MI. Despite a lower court ruling upholding restrictions on proselytizing at an Arab festival in Dearborn this past weekend, a Christian ministry was allowed to walk around and hand out leaflets urging the predominately Muslim festival goers to convert to Christianity because the appeals court issued a last-minute stay of that court order pending appeal of the ruling.