Censoring the internet for the interests of the few


The irony of Jakim’s Friday sermon is that Malaysia had launched the Multimedia Super Corridor, which includes a guarantee of no censorship on the Internet. 

(TMI) – Censoring the internet will only reveal the lack of intelligence to argue in a marketplace of ideas. 

Of late, the calls for internet censorship in Malaysia has gone louder and the latest is from the Federal Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) which urged Putrajaya yesterday to consider taking such action to stop attacks against Islam.

Four years ago, Putrajaya was looking into an internet filtering system akin to the Green Dam that China was mulling, ostensibly to control pornography but it is actually the start of the slippery slope towards censorship.

The irony is, of course, Malaysia had launched the Multimedia Super Corridor in 1990s with great fanfare and a 10-point Bill of Guarantees that include the guarantee of no censorship. But now, talk of censoring the internet is common place.

It comes at the heels of insisting that only Muslims can use the word Allah to describe God in Malaysia and restrictions on other Arabic terms, for fear that it will confuse and weaken the faith of Muslims in the Muslim-majority nation.

This pre-supposes that most Muslim Malaysians are brittle in their faith and are sheep that can easily be confused by any Arabic word used by anyone else apart from Muslim scholars.

In any other setting, this would be an insult to the intelligence of the average Muslim. But in Malaysia, this is taken as status quo without a whimper from Muslims that they are smarter than what the Islamic authorities think they are.

In many ways, the latest call by Jakim is reminiscent of what happened in Germany 80 years ago when the Nazis encouraged German students to burn some 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, such as Jewish or American novels, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture.

According to a Wikipedia stub on the issue, on the night of May 10, 1933, in most university towns, nationalist students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit”.

“The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, rectors, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and unwanted books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony, band-playing, songs, “fire oaths”, and incantations.

“In Berlin, some 40,000 people gathered in the Opernplatz to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: ‘No to decadence and moral corruption!’ Goebbels enjoined the crowd. ‘Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner,” said the Wikipedia posting.

Just like in Germany, and now in Malaysia, curbing the flow of information and alternative thought is the refuge of crooks and scoundrels.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/censoring-the-internet-for-the-interests-of-the-few