Press Clipping(s): Freedom of Speech (and Press)

We have heard much in recent days about governments banning blogs, first in Pakistan and now in India. There has been a lot of protests in the eletcronic world regarding such bans: an obvious infraction of the freedom of speech rights in those countries.

However, the following news caught my attention as it brings up the question of freedom of speech and press in a rather interesting way. if the news is true, then Pakistan is actively working to prevent extremist elements from propagating their popaganda easily via the new media sources, including FM radio. But, while we can all agree that extremism has hardly been useful in any place or time, and the particular brand of religious extremism that has infiltrated pakistani society has been a huge problem for all its citizens, neighbors and othes, it remains to be discussed if such crackdowns are necessary and if at all legal. Some would argue (including myself) that such bans if anything help promote the cause of the radical elements as they get to play the underdog. Should a government have the right to ban publications and press/media if it disagrees with their message(s)? And what role must the society play in promoting and guaranteeing the freedom of press/media and speech? This issue touches on so many things that have affected us in the recent past: from the US coverage of war (to stories from Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo), to the cartoons in Danish newspapers, the murder of Dutch film producer Theo van Gogh, and the reporting on women’s rights in the Muslim world. I believe we all must have a point of view on this.

Source: Dawn (http://www.dawn.com/2006/07/19/rss.htm#34)
Pakistan cracks down on FM radio in tribal areas ISLAMABAD, July 19 (Reuters) – Pakistan has taken 156 FM radio stations off the air to stop the spread of religious extremism and anti-state sentiments, notably among Pashtun tribes near the Afghan border, a spokesman for the regulator said Wednesday. The raids have been conducted by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulating Authority (PEMRA), working in tandem with local officials in the semi-autonomous tribal areas during the last six months. “Our regulations do not extend to the tribal areas. But we are coordinating with local authorities and police to jam or shut down these illegal stations,” a spokesman for PEMRA said. He said 94 stations had been operating illegally, and had been transmitting their own religious and political views. The rest of the stations were closed down by the local authorities after they got complaints some were fanning sectarian hatred and anti-state feelings,” he said. At least 26 people were killed in the tribal region in March after clashes between factions led by rival Muslim clerics.(Posted @ 17:42 PST)

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