Archive for the ‘International’ Category

120px-Pope_Francis_in_March_2013_(cropped)707192-une-charlie-png.jpgAs many on this blog know, I am a great fan of Pope Francis who has brought an inspiring leadership to the Church that has drawn millions back to the faith. Given that admiration, I was disheartened to read the Pope’s comment on free speech today. I ran a column last weekend on how world leaders are failing over themselves to “Stand With Charlie” after the massacre of editors and staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine. However, the West has been rolling back on free speech rights, including some of these very leaders. Pope Francis added his view this week to those insisting that free speech must have limits when it comes to insulting people about their religion. It is a disappointing observation, particularly when coupled with a rather poor analogy.

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Geburtshaus Adolf Hitlers in Braunau am Inn225px-adolf_hitler_cph_3a48970The town officials in Braunau, Austria have a bit of a problem. They have a pretty Renaissance home with “location, location, location” but also history, history, history. The picturesque corner home happens to be the birthplace of Adolph Hitler and the town is exploring ways to preventing it from continuing to draw neo-Nazis as a type of fascist heritage tour.

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220px-Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan707192-une-charlie-png.jpgRemember Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outrage over the appearance of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu at the Paris march for free speech? It seems a rather bizarre scene for a man who had led to one of the greatest rollbacks on free speech and press freedom in Turkey’s history as part of his insertion of Islamic fundamentalism into the once secular state. The irony only grew today after a Turkish court banned websites from show this cover of Charlie Hebdo’s magazine following the massacre of its editors and staff by Muslim extremists.
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300px-Eugène_Delacroix_-_La_liberté_guidant_le_peupleThis weekend I wrote a column for the Washington Post on the crackdown of free speech in France. The column suggested that, if the French really wanted to honor the dead at Charlie Hebdo, they would rescind the laws used to hound them and threaten them with criminal prosecution for years. (Indeed, at least one surviving journalist expressed contempt for those who now support free speech but remained silent in the face of past efforts to shut down the magazine). Now, however, news reports indicate that the French government is doubling down on criminalizing speech in the name of free speech after the massacre. France has reportedly made dozens of arrests of people who glorify terrorism and engage in hateful or antiSemitic speech.

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RALLY-articleLargeThe cover picture on the Israeli newspaper HaMevaser may seem familiar to those who watched the historic march for free speech in Paris this weekend, but something is missing. If you said, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, you have a keen eye and the qualifications to be an ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper editor. The newspaper removed not just Merkel’s picture but the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and Simonetta Sommaruga, the president of Switzerland as well as a European Union official. The reason? God does not want men to see pictures of women, even world leaders, for reasons of modesty and religious purity.

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707192-une-charlie-png.jpgThe first issue by Charlie Hebdo will hit the streets today with a cover featuring a cartoon of Mohammed in defiance of Muslim extremists. The magazine will be offered “in 16 languages” for readers around the world and many are lining up to buy it to show solidarity with the magazine and free speech values after the massacre of 12 innocent people at the magazine.

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President_Barack_Obama220px-Erdogan_croppedMuch of the talk after the massive march for free speech in Paris this weekend was the absence of President Barack Obama with other world leaders. It was an embarrassment for our country and slap in the face to the French. Instead, the Administration sent Jane Hartley, one of its bundlers turned diplomats who were given a major appointment for raising money for the President. Even though Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris that very day, he did not even stick around to march with other leaders. The Administration is now admitting that it blew it but there is a mystifying lack of basic competence and foresight at the White House at such moments. Rather than attend the rally, Obama stated in town for a photo op with the San Antonio Spurs. It was a shameful image to leave with French. This was not the only such controversy over who was present and who was not.

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