Bangladesh: You Can’t Call Us Intolerant

The government of Bangladesh was not happy at all that an article in the latest issue of Far Eastern Economic Review described the Asian nation as a site of increasing religious intolerance and militant Islamist movements.

To prove just how wrong the magazine was, Bangladesh promptly banned the offending issue of the Hong Kong-based journal.

Newsweek Issue Banned for Depicting Mohammed

The BBC reports that several Muslim countries have banned the latest issue of Newsweek because the magazine includes a depiction of Mohammed. The illustration comes from a Turkish manuscript that shows Mohammed and the angel Gabriel. Time apologized last April for running the same image, depicted below.

Most Muslims believe that the Koran strictly forbids visual depictions of Mohammed So far, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia have banned the issue, while Egypt has condemened it has blasphemous.

The BBC reports that Reporters Sans Frontiers condemned the bans as blatant acts of censorship. In a press release, that group said, “Aware that the representation of Muslim prophets is forbidden, we nevertheless consider that the censorship of this international magazine is in the first place an attack on the free flow of information.”

Not that such censorship is exactly a surprise in either of those four countries.

Lift U.S. Quotas on Bangladesh Textiles

Bangladesh Commerce Minister Amir Khasru Mahmud Chodhury visited the United States in mid-November to ask the U.S. to life its quotas on textile products from that Asian country. The United States should do the right thing and oblige them.

Developed countries such as the United States complain incessantly about the lack of free markets within the developing world, but at the same time maintain backward trade regimes that prevent poor countries from developing export industries of their own (which also raise the cost of living for residents in developed countries).

If the United States really wants to do something about poverty in the Third World, it should immediately lift all trade restrictions with developing nations as soon as possible.

Source:

Bangladesh wants textiles curbs lifted. BBC, November 12, 2001.

China Leads World in Imprisoning Journalists

A new report by the Committe to Protect Journalists says that China leads the world in imprisoning journalists. China accounted for 22 of the 87 journalists imprisoned worldwide.

The CPJ report noted that China seems to have hardened its stance against journalists over the past couple years, likely in response to the chaos created by rapid Internet adoption.

In previous years, the Chinese government made concessions to international public opinion by carefully stage-managing the release of prominent dissidents, including journalists, at critical moments. Authorities took a harder line in 2000, when not a single journalist was released.

Other countries which had jailed journalists as of December 2000 were,

Country

Imprisoned
Journalists

Algeria
2
Burma
8
Central African Republic
1
China
22
Comoros
1
Cuba
3
Democratic Republic of Congo
4
Egypt
1
Ethiopia
7
Iran
6
Kuwait
2
Nepal
1
Niger
1
Syria
1
Tunisia
2
Turkey
14
Uzbekistan
3
Vietnam
2

The number of imprisoned journalists has fallen dramatically since 1998, when 118 journalists were imprisoned, but these numbers do underestimate the problem since they only count journalists who were still in prison at the end of 2000. A much larger number of journalists were imprisoned for at least part of 2000 but released before the end of the year.

Of course arrest isn’t the only way of intimidating journalists. Last year 24 journalists were killed around the world either in the act of reporting on a story or in retaliation because of their reporting or affiliation with a news organization. The murder of journalists breaks down like this,

Country

Journalists
Killed

Bangladesh
2
Brazil
1
Colombia
3
Guatemala
1
Haiti
1
India
1
Mozambique
1
Pakistan
1
Philippines
2
Russia
3
Sierra Leone
3
Somalia
1
Spain
1
Sri Lanka
1
Ukraine
1
Uruguay
1

Additionally another 20 journalists were murdered worldwide, but the motive for those murders remains unclear.

Source:

Attack on the Press in 2000. Committee to Protect Journalists, 2000.

China: ‘Leading jailer’ of journalists. The BBC, March 19, 2001.