Thursday, May 05, 2005

"Freedom" of the Press in Sudan

An editor at Sudan's Al Wifaq newspaper has learned just how much his fellow Muslim respect the concepts of freedom of speech and freedom of the press after he printed an article that mildly questioned the lineage of the Prophet Mohamed, the founder of Islam. Following a popular outcry and the exhortations of various clerics, the editor has been arrested and charged while throngs of frenzied Sundanese Muslims bay like wolves, calling for his death.

Hundreds of people waving banners and chanting "God is great" protested outside a court as Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed was charged over the article.

His Al Wifaq newspaper is being suspended for three days from Friday.

The crowds were closely monitored by riot police, who clashed with the protesters on Thursday.

"Oh judges of the Sudan, defend the honour of the Prophet," read one banner.

"The court must execute him - this is an insult not to any ordinary man - this is an insult to a prophet," one man said.

The protesters made speeches through loudspeakers and handed out statements, demanding that the authorities hand Mr Taha over so they could kill him.

Mr Taha is a prominent Islamist journalist and has close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood political group.

For the record, the Muslim Brotherhood is a violent, radical Islamist organization, founded in the 1920's, which uses terror to promote the most fundamentalist forms of Islamism, including the elimination of democracy and institution of full theocratic rule according to the Koran. Apparently Mr. Taha's fundamentalist bonafides didn't save him from the anger of the Muslim mob. Mr. Taha has explained his lapse by saying it is all a "big misunderstanding" - probably not the best argument to save his life.

As in most other Islamic nations, questioning Islam is a capital offense in Sudan, as is leaving the Islamic faith. Western notions of freedom of conscience and free inquiry are discouraged - through violence, intimidation and murder. Yet Americans and Europeans are constantly told by mulitculturalists that Western culture is nothing special and that all cultures are morally equal. The multiculturalists, of course, don't live in Sudan; they can only exist in the West where four centuries of Western culture, law and philosophy permit them to spout their nonsense without consequence. Multiculturalism doesn't exist outside the West; non-Western indigenous peoples proudly decline to tolerate dissent from their ruling orthodoxies. The faculties of every major Western university - who so ardently declare the moral inferiority of Western culture compared to that of the Third World - would be promptly executed for heresy, apostasy and generally being infidels throughout the Islamic world.

Of course, Sudan's resident journalists have no problem with Mr. Taha's prosecution. (Given the ferocity of the mob crying for blood, does anyone think they would complain? They don't want to be next.)

Ali Shumi, the head of Sudan's Press Council, said the article insulted the Prophet Muhammad.

He denied the charges were an assault on press freedom.

"Freedom of the press stops when it comes to respect for religions. Not just for Islam - if you said the same things about Jesus there would be the same punishment," he said.

Well isn't that tolerant? Actually, Jesus is considered a minor prophet in Islam and would logically receive some theological protection from criticism. But this hasn't prevented Sudan's Muslims from waging a genocidal war against Sudanese Christians in the south of the country, who are often enslaved by Muslims. So you can't question Jesus in Sudan, but you can torture, murder and enslave his followers. Yet another marvelous example of Muslim respect for other religions.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says that with more than 15 daily papers, Sudan professes to have press freedom but in practice a lot of self-censorship takes place and on occasion the heavy hand of the censor cuts out articles before they go to press.

A truck-load of soldiers has been stationed outside the Al Wifaq offices down a narrow dusty side street in central Khartoum.

Sudan has been ruled by Sharia law since 1983. Radical Islamists have vowed to someday see Sharia law extended to Europe and North America. With the aid and support of Western multiculturalists - and feckess Western politicians - they may someday acheive their goal.


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