Today is Japan’s National Foundation Day which is celebrated every year and is a one day holiday..
Which I realized only when I went to university to polish off my presentation for my entrance exam, only to find the whole university closed!
Also as part of my entrance exam, I have to sit a English exam (in Japanese!) which I need to bring an English/Japanese dictionary and since i only have a handy dandy electronic dictionary which I’m not allowed to use, I had to shed some cash and help the Japanese economy.
So in doing so, I went to one of the bookshops downtown in search of a dictionary..
The first thing I noticed were hundreds of photos of President Barack Obama, and hundreds more in the form of CD and DVD books!
Each book is basically a compilation of President Obama’s speeches from his Democratic Nomination till his inauguration all translated word-by-word into Japanese all as a way to help improve Japanese people’s English (especially advanced learners). It is a far cry from George W. Bush’s butchering of the English language through his memorable Bushisms.
But President Obama isn’t the only political figure helping books fly off the shelves!
Japanese Prime Minister, Taro Aso, is renowned for two things: His love for Manga comics (whenever I mention that Aso has a typical Manga villian mouth and grin, my Japanese friends burst out laughing) and his many misreadings of Kanji.
After quite a few public blotchings of Kanji by PM Aso during speeches, many Japanese have turned to bookstores to buy books on how to read complex Kanjis to avoid such embaressing situations. Two women who were standing in front of me in line were buying such books, at the same time making me feel better than I’m not the only one struggling with reading Kanjis with each one at least two or three readings, some even reaching 12 and 13!
As for our politicians, the only time we see them reading is when the Book Fair is in town and all they do is collect books to fill their shelves (mostly religious books) to make them look ‘smart’ and ‘knowledgable’ whilst on the other hand, we have ministers whose job is to encourage people to read and learn about the world around them and write and express themselves, goes and attempts to block the internet…tsk tsk!
Once again please sign the petition against Internet censorship in Bahrain
A BAHRAINI blogger has spearheaded the launch of a petition against Internet censorship following a ministerial order to block pornographic and unauthorised websites.
A total of 150 people from Bahrain and other countries have signed the on-line petition since it was initiated last Thursday and more are adding to it every hour, said its creator Eyad Ebrahim.
Mr Ebrahim said he was hoping to collect as many as 5,000 signatures before sending the petition to the Culture and Information Ministry, along with recommendations from bloggers.
“Bahrain is a democracy and we would like to be treated in a democratic way- we are adults and should be treated accordingly,” he told the GDN.
“Any censorship needed should be done in the household.
“Adults should have the freedom to decide which websites they want to censor – the government is trying to play God.”
Mr Ebrahim said a better option than censoring would be to bring those handling the offending website to court and leave it for the judge to decide on the website’s fate.
“It (this censorship) damages Bahrain’s reputation as a liberal country,” he said.
“It would be far better to redirect this energy or to confront it with legal tools rather than blocking it outright.”
The Culture and Information Ministry issued a decree on January 14 informing all telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to prevent access to pornographic and unauthorised websites banned by the ministry, which included some political and on-line discussion forums.
However, Mr Ebrahim said he wanted to know what criteria the ministry had used to decide which websites to block, because while some harmless websites had been blocked, offensive ones were still accessible.
For example, while many political websites had been blocked, others that promoted sectarian hatred were still accessible.
He said if any sites had to be blocked it should have been websites that promoted hatred of any type because they went against the Bahrain Code of Ethics that was launched by bloggers last year.
Mr Ebrahim also questioned the move to ban pornographic sites while Bahrain still had an alleged prostitution industry.
“We see political, economic and social implications to this (Internet censorship),” he said.
“Socially, when it is illegal to access a particular content over the Internet, people will get around it and will be criminalised for this.
“Economically, when it is a law, this will increase the cost on service providers, who will then shift the cost to the clients.
Mr Ebrahim said the block on websites conflicted with Bahraini law, its constitution and international agreements.
“The ministerial order conflicts with other parts in the Bahraini law and constitution,” said Mr Ebrahim.
Furthermore, he said the block on websites violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that Bahrain signed on September 20, 2006.
Article 19 states:
l Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
l Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
l The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph two of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities.
It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others.
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.
To sign the petition against Internet censorship visit: www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-internet-censorship-in-bahrain.html.
نرجو من الجميع التوقيع على العريضة الالكترونية الاعلاه ضد حجب المواقع في البحرين
لنصرخ بأعلى صوتنا بأننا أحرار, و لنا حق الاختيار و حرية الرأي
و أيضاً نرجو من الجميع نشر هذه العريضة عبر المنتديات و المدونات و الفيسبوك و عبر البريد الالكتروني
Please click on the above petition and sign against Internet censorship in Bahrain.
Please fight for your right to choose and to speak up.
Spread the word between your friends, colleagues and all those affected by these website blocks!
Youtube is such a pain in the ass..
Well, it’s not the first time the Bahrain government has blocked Google-related applications…
Many of us already know that the Bahrain Ministry of Culture and Information (formerly known under the moniker of Ministry of Information) have cracked their knuckles and showed their ‘Big Brother’-esque abilities and have created a new list of Blocked websites in Bahrain.
The new list had the usual suspects, Bahrain political movement websites, Anti government web forums, Anti-Islam websites and a handful of porn websites (Playboy) etc..
This time around, the Ministry has outdone itself by blocking dozens more websites most noticably proxy websites (which allows users to enter blocked websites with ease), Google Translate and DeviantArt!
The Kingdom of Bahrain’s constitution states that the people of Bahrain have the right of freedom of speech:
حرية الرأي و البحث العلمي مكفولة, و لكل إنسان حق التعبير عن رأيه و نشره بالقول أو الكتابة أو غيرها, و ذلك وفقاً للشروط و الأوضاع التي يبينها القانون, مع عدم المساس بأسس العقيدة الإسلامية و وحدة الشعب, بما لا يثير الفرقة و الطائفية.
Freedom of opinion and scientific research is guaranteed, and everyone is right to express their views and verbally, in writing or otherwise, and in accordance with the terms and conditions prescribed by law, without prejudice to the foundations of the Islamic faith and the unity of the people, including the band (discrimination), is not sectarian.
Translated by… you guessed it!
People should be free to do whatever they want online, whether it’s safe or sinful is really none of the government’s business.. We are not cattle that need to herded and shown the ‘righteous’ or better put ‘the government’s’ way.
The most dissapointing point of this quite unintelligent act is that it was passed by the Minister, Shaikha Mai bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, a woman who during her tenure as the Undersecretary of Culture and National Heritage showed off how beautiful Bahrain is and bringing the world’s cultures and art right to our doorstep for free or quite cheaply through events like the Spring of Culture.
Blocking Google Translate in a world where everyone desperately needs to understand eachother and to do so quickly is simply a shot in the foot. DeviantArt on the other hand, was where most of or even all of Bahrain’s top photographers and graphic designers showed off their works and rubbed shoulders with artists from around the globe. Some of the Bahrainis’ work on DeviantArt are arguably world class and awe inspiring.
Yet once again, blocking such a site is going against everything that Shaikha Mai bint Ebrahim Al-Khalifa stood for in Bahrain’s art community…
Your Excellency, blocking these websites will in the short and long term continue to undermine the freedoms given to the Bahraini people through the constitution and depriving useful websites from the residents of Bahrain for no reason whatsoever.
Please reconsider and lift the ban off these websites and let us as a people grow more knowledgeable, educated and inspired…