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Moroccan Atheist Blogger Receives Death Threats: This Week in Online Tyranny

Kacem El Ghazzali threatened with murder. Kacem El Ghazzali, a Moroccan blogger and atheist, has received death threats on his Facebook page. One threatened to slaughter him like a sheep. Another spoke of a nearby town.

“We shall meet at Elhajeb where murdering you is going to take a place!”

The person harassing Kacem is a self-styled terrorist calling himself Abu Huzaifah Al-Ansari. Using Facebook to harass people who do not hew to your religious beliefs is not a new development. The Moroccan police and Facebook should take threats of murder seriously.

Don’t forget that three and a half years ago, another religiously critical blogger of conscience, Egypt’s Kareem Amer, began serving a four year sentence for speaking his mind. His sentence is up, theoretically, this coming February. He has been tortured in prison and many have turned against him. The people at Free Kareem, however, many of whom are practicing Muslims, have supported him. You don’t have to agree with what a person says to believe they should be allowed to speak without being murdered, tortured or imprisoned.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards use Basij militia to prosecute blog war. The Basij militia became world famous during the protests over the last Iranian elections, in which many civilians were killed, including Neda, whose face, and death on the street, were broadcast around the world. 2,000 Basij are now being put to work blogging for the Iranian regime.

Haystack circumvention tool called dangerous, discontinued. A tool for web users to get around censorship called Haystack, which won an award for innovation from the Guardian newspaper and was praised by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was found wanting. Net Effect’s Evgeny Morozov wrote extensively about the uncritical way the media, and the U.S. government, spoke about the tool. The U.S. Government had approved the tool for use by dissidents in Iran. However, it hadn’t been tested to any degree and those who did test it found a number of big holes in it. Eventually, the developers called a halt to what had been praised as a cure-all for online freedom in Iran.

“We have halted ongoing testing of Haystack in Iran pending a security review. If you have a copy of the test program, please refrain from using it.”

Shiva Nazar Ahari freed, for now. The Iranian blogger, who was arrested for the second time last December, has been freed, again provisionally, for the promise of payment of a second fee, this one $500,000, if she breaks the terms of her release. That makes $700,000 Shiva’s family has paid the Iranian regime to keep her out of jail. She is still facing charges of moharabeh, a death-penalty offense of allegedly “warring with G-d.”

Craigslist yields to pressure and shuts down sex ads. Whether you are a fan of ads selling sex or not, it was long established in U.S. law that offering them was firmly protected under the provisions of the Constitution. Still, Craigslist elected to stop them. Pressure that forces a change in behavior is not censorship. But Craigslist put a “censored” graphic over the link to the sex ads for a while, which we found misleading.

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