We have previously discussed the crackdown on free speech in Russia, including examples of quasi-blasphemy prosecutions by the country. While we often see such prosecutions in Muslim countries, there is a growing trend in the West against free speech, particularly when deemed anti-religious or insulting to particular groups. The unholy alliance of Vladimir Putin with the Russian Orthodox Church has accelerated this trend as shown in the move to shutdown a popular atheist social networking page of “There is no God” on VKontakte. The site’s 26,000 followers woke up to notice that the site was shutdown after a ruling from a count in the Muslim North Caucasus region of Chechnya under the control of strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a key Putin ally.
The Russian court ruled that the site was deemed to be publishing materials that can “insult the feelings of Orthodox Christians.” That would seem obvious from the face that it is an atheist site but the court cited a cartoon showing Jesus telling a surgeon during an operation: “I created this cancer, how dare you remove it?,” with the surgeon replying “Shut up Jesus.”
That was enough to denying thousands of atheists free speech in Russia.
The prosecutors in Chechnya said the decision was obvious since it “uncovered materials during monitoring of the Internet which insult the feelings of the faithful.”
That would cover most anything posted on an atheist site, of course. There appears no crimes to cover “insult to the free speech of the public” in Russia. The case reminds one of the irony of Putin standing proudly as the great Russia writers in history were celebrated in the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Not only were some of those writers threatened and abused by the Russian government, Putin himself worked at the KGB while such writers were jailed for exercising free speech. Putin and other authoritarian figures are particularly worried about the Internet as a powerful vehicle for free speech. After all, if you can question God, it is only a matter of time before someone has the gall to question Putin.
Source: Daily Star