SHAFAQNA – It was Eugene O’Neill who said: “Censorship of anything, at anytime, in any place, on whatever pretense has always been and always will be the last resort of the boob and the bigot.”
I must say I wholeheartedly agree … and while I found many ideas repulsive and heinous I will never condone those who advocate tyranny by claiming righteousness – not even if in fact they are on the side of righteousness. Freedom remains an elusive concept if any one party claims it absolutely. I would personally argue that Freedom stands an expression of God’s endless mercy, and as such can never be encapsulated, claimed or owned by any one individual, group or faith.
Freedom is many and one at the same time – many in that it can be expressed in a multitude of fashions, and one for it speaks of universal concept. I can hear atheists stir in their seats as I mention God.
I apologise if you find my ranting upsetting, but I do happen to believe in God and I simply refuse to be shamed for asserting my devotion. For those who still find the concept of God unbearable, may I theorise that in such aversion lies an unconscious admission of His existence.
If God as you claim is a fairy tale than why the imperious need to disappear Him?
But enough with that, I wish not toady to debate God, only speak to you of Freedom, and Censorship.
Where have our colours gone?
Our world in losing its colours as we are told to live in monochrome. We are constantly taught to relate to others in dichotomist terms – us versus them, the bad guy versus the good guy … such a set-up is inherently radical and grossly unrealistic, especially if we consider that good and bad are subjective to people’s desires, ambitions and own sense of reality.
In other words, life is complicated and we should all take a moment to appreciate our own flaws and recognise that we don’t have all the answers.
Now, has any of this has anything to do with Freedom and Censorship?
Everything actually …. Earlier this week my dearest friend Marwa Osman – a talented and immensely brave Lebanese political analyst took to Facebook to express her nationalism and defend those men and women who have pledged their allegiance to Lebanon’s Resistance movement: the Hezbollah.
Because she denounced the use of propaganda, and asserted her opinions, her beliefs, she was barred from Facebook.
Her stand for freedom of speech was stolen away from her by the very powers which have claimed democratic empowerment. Her words were silenced for it upset certain factions, and lobbies … need I say more? I believe not.
From where I’m siting Facebook has now become another tool in the hands of a system which seeks dominion over our minds, over our voices, over our ideas … where will the line be drawn?
What is democracy if pluralism is driven out, cast out and gas-lighted? Yes, gas-lighted! Censorship it needs to be said seeks to isolate those “independent” minds who dare still to think and live in technicolour.
Marwa Osman is one of those minds – she should not be silenced; she should be celebrated. At the very least she should be given the courtesy of a debate. Sentencing her to social media jail only serves to exemplify just how very low democracies have stooped to, to salvage their narrative.
Ms Osman of course in only one among many … it is likely many others, including myself, could face similar ban for daring go against the grain of Western righteousness.
But truths are worth telling if we are serious about democracy, even when those truths are hard to stomach, even when those truths make us look bad. If we silence the opposition, then what hope is left for accountability?
How can you proclaim to be in the right if you cannot bring yourself to listen to others? How can you pass judgement on nations if you refuse to give them the courtesy of your own freedom?
Isn’t the point of Democracy to affirm people’s right to be, right to self-political determination, right to religious freedom, right to choose for themselves?
Much of our troubles today can be boiled down to one concept: engineered ignorance.
We have allowed for the powers that be to speak at us, and for us rather than exercise our personal liberties … why you may ask? Convenience, cowardice, laziness.
It may be time for us to recognise that those voices which are being silenced actually carry a truth which terrifies the daylight out of Western institutions.
Ask yourself this: why censor journalism, ideas, and analyses when hate is offered immunity?
Why excuse tyrannical dictatorships of the likes of Saudi Arabia and call those friends, while you deny Bahrain, Yemen and countless other nations their democracies, labelling their movements as rebellions and dissidence?
America if I recall was born in dissidence and rebellion?
By Catherine Shakdam for the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies – this article appeared first in the Huffington Post.