Monday, February 13, 2006

The Most Important Mohammed Image Yet. . .

The Mohammed in the grainy photograph to the right is a different prophet than the one everyone's been scribbling about lately. This one is Mohammed al-Asadi. He is the editor of the Yemen Observer. The photograph shows him behind bars in a prison in Sana'a, where he was taken on Sunday for having printed materials deemed offensive to the Prophet.

The brave Yemeni journalist, who had editorialized for calm and reasoned dialogue about religious sensibilities and freedom of the press, decided to reprint a "veiled" version of one of the controversial Danish caricatures to accompany an article about the Yemeni protests over the cartoon row.

The Yemen Observer website is still on line, and pledges to provide updates about Mohammed (the journalist), who joined three other Yemeni journalists in refusing to be bullied about what a newspaper should or should not print. Abdulkarim Sabra and Yehiya al-Abed of the Yemeni newspaper Al-Hurriya were jailed for printing Prophet-offending material on the weekend, and an arrest warrant was also issued for Kamal al-Aalafi, editor of Al-Rai Al-Aam.

All three newspapers have had their publishing licences revoked.

So the next time someone tells you "this is not about about free speech," remember the face of Mohammed al-Asadi. And remember, too, those Yemeni journalists who are being persecuted not for blaspheming the prophet, but for blaspheming the rich and the powerful:

Only yesterday, Khalid Salman, editor-in-Chief of the socialist newspaper Al-Thori, and journalists Nabil Sobaie and Fikri Qasim, were handed suspended prison sentences on threat of arrest and imprisonment for writing any articles, in any newspaper, about anything, for six months. The three were convicted for offending the Yemeni president by writing about corruption and the deteriorating health and living conditions of Yemen's poor.

Here's some wise counsel from the Kurdish Muslim writer Khasraw Saleh Koyi: If it takes pen and paper, fingers and keyboard strokes, computers and internet, let everyone exercise their freedom to express their thoughts about any religion. For the truth to prevail, freedom of expression is the way. Either that or let historic lies and deceit linger around to feed backwardness and violent temptations indefinitely.


Blogger Annamarie said...

Thanks for this post. It puts things in perspective. However, I still think Ezra and his ilk are a different story.


9:56 PM  

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