Fighting for Free Speech
On days like today, I am reminded of our truly precious right to freedom of speech in Canada.
Take 24 Hours where I have a weekly column.
On Tuesdays, can you read Bill Tielemen’s columns, written from a terribly mis-guided, left-wing, unionist, and narrowly anti-capitalist perspective.
And then on Thursdays, you can read my columns, written from a terribly mis-guided, right-wing, corporatist, and narrowly capitalist perspective.
Depending, of course, on your point of view.
But regardless of your opinion of each of us, neither Bill nor I have to fear being jailed for our writings, even though we’ve both taken anti-government positions from time to time.
This is in stark contrast to political commentators in other countries.
And very unlike Egyptian political blogger, Alaa Abdel Fatah who was arrested last weekend for his anti-government political website and peaceful pro-democracy protests.
Bloggers are folks who host a website where they journal news and other views – often they are political. In some countries, they are forced to be anonymous.
Another Egypian blogger, operating under the pseudonym, “Sandmonkey”, hosts a busy website, but can never reveal his name for fear of persecution. He is pushing for Alaa’s release, even as Egyptian government officials cruise his own website looking for clues both to his identity and other writers who are pushing for a more democratic Eygpt.
Of the 48 latest arrests in the wake of recent protests in Eygpt, six of them are bloggers. Three of these bloggers are women.
In a country with only 30 active political bloggers, the arrest of 20% of them is more than coincidence; it is a deliberate action to silence peaceful protest and free speech.
Now, of course, there is no “right” to free speech in Eygpt. And, actually, there is no “right” to free speech in much of the non-democratic Middle East.
Some argue, in the wake of the refusal of most mainstream press to publish the controversial Danish “Muslim” cartoons, that Canada doesn’t have free speech, either. But the difference is clear.
I can post what I want to my blog without fear of hearing a heavy knock on my door in the middle of the night. And Bill can do the same.
But tonight, Alaa will spend another fearful night in an Egyptian prison, an unfortunate new martyr to the cause of freedom and democracy.
More information can be found at: http://freealaa/blogspot.com or www.sandmonkey.org
The address for the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt is:
454 Laurier Ave. East, Ottawa, ON K1N 6R3, Tel (613) 234-4931
(As seen today in 24 Hours)