Today we find ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi calm and collective as his trail begins. In court refusing to wear prison clothing he declared “This is a military coup…I am the president of the republic and I am here against my will.” He was removed from office by force in July, much to the delight of millions of Egyptian people who came to the streets of Cairo protesting his office. The military stepped in to support the people and placed Morsi under arrest. There were suggestions, mostly from arabic news networks, that the Americans had been attempting to negotiate on his behalf but were politely told to not get involved. As the last of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders (Esaam el-Erian) was discovered and arrested on Wednesday, Morsi begins he case with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood co-defendants.
He claims it was a coup, and it was! It was power to the people and internet communication that encouraged them to act. Freedom of speech. Today in the UK we find another trial carrying on with regards also to freedom of speech and information. This is about the Rebekah #Brooks #PhoneHacking scandal which lead to the closure of a UK nation newspaper the News of the World (which she was editor and chief). The phone hacking issue emerged around the hacking of murdered school girl Milly Dowler’s phone in 2002 between her abduction and discovery of her body. Brooks and co-defendant, former government spin doctor Andy Coulson, are accused of hacking phones between 2000 and 2006. Currently there seems only circumstantial evidence as most of Brooks’s note books have ‘disappeared’, probably when she instructed her personal assistant to go remove them from the newspapers store room.
Anyway what does all this have in common? Well it strikes me that personal freedoms are in the news particularly today. Whether being violated by news paper editors like Brooks or leading to the removal of your office like with Morsi. Although many of us in the west sigh a breath of relief when we heard about Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, where should we draw the line at what we allow and what we condemn? Clearly Brooks was in the wrong if she’s found guilty of phone hacking a missing girls mobile phone, and Morsi of crimes against his people. How much freedom do we give people to be heard? What if they are preaching the murder of people? What if they are preaching the change of systems like female driving ban in Saudi Arabia? What if they’re just preaching that women should be covered at all times? Surely they have the right to be heard? The people were being heard in Egypt, but not all. In fact the country is in a state of paradox and conflict with it’s own desires. Take the Egyptian comedian Bassem #Youssef who called his show “Revolution or Coup” and then proceeded to poke fun at both sides, the Egyptian army and the ousted Egyptian President Morsi and Islam (ooo you don’t want to go there!). His point, everyone is all too serious. Both sides are now suing him for damages. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day!
So where is the freedom of speech? On Thursday Egyptian State Commissioners of the Administrative Court issued a statement that it would no longer allow insults to the Egyptian Presidency, explaining that “freedom of expression should respect wider societal values and morals in Egypt, not attack others or waste efforts by the state” It seems they’re missing the point. The Culture is now a global one as kids take to the internet and mix it up!
We are now no longer one culture but an international consciousness. It’s time to realise that a country can not suppress the mass education of its people (well unless it’s China) and that limited suppressive forced belief systems such as women not being allowed to drive will not be tolerated by an evolving international youth. Saudi Arabia are still in the midst of fighting the female ban on driving. After the last weeks protests and the detention of a Saudi columnist (Al-Mubarak) who publicly supported ending the ban, Saudi are set to face even more protests. This will not stop! They cannot suppress people like this and the international consciousness will not allow it.
Comedians are a big part of bringing awareness to sensitive issues. Comedy must not be disregarded, no matter how serious the issue is. 60 women have already been detained for breaking the ban, stimulated in part by the Saudi comedian Hisham Fageeh who recorded a satire take on Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ into ‘No Woman No Drive’
As Oscar Wilde said “Life is too important to take it seriously”
We are on the cusp of freedom of speech. The ability to laugh at opening a ridiculous situation. If the people find it funny it’s because there is something there that needs changing. As soon as we stop our ability to laugh at someone’s actions and behaviour we are living in a police state. Controlling what you say and when you say it. That being said, we don’t like people to incite violence. But what is the difference between physical violence and mental verbal violence?
We clearly are finding our own international feet and are yet to have a World Identity to call our own. We are mixing the paints together and once that’s done we can see what we’ll draw. In the mean time regimes that go against the collective world consciousness, that promote hatred, fear, rejection, racism and forced belief systems should be treasured as they will very soon be a thing of the past. We will look back and laugh at how ridiculous we ever were to think one belief (about life) was any more valid than any other. There is one truth and that is we are all perfectly who we should be, even the ‘terrorists’. Honest and open communication coming from hearts is the fastest way to move into a balanced safe, peaceful, productive, evolving world.
Peace in the Middle East x