Index on Censorship- The Fight For Freedom of Speech Isn’t Over
June 8, 2015
When the Berlin wall fell in 1989, many people thought the fight against censorship was over. How wrong they were.
More than 25 years later, and those same battles are being fought once more. Journalists and authors still find themselves hauled into court, under fire or even thrown into prison for writing things that governments and others don’t like.
Recently Index has been working with writers around the world who face enormous challenges. From playwright Lucien Bourjeily whose black comedy was banned in Lebanon to journalists in Azerbaijan who spoke out for greater democracy, the battles to allow people to speak and write freely are enormous.
At the upcoming Leeds Big Bookend festival, our panel will be debating one of the big themes of the year, whether freedom of religion and freedom of speech are intertwined. Our panellists are Anthony Clavane, sports journalist and author of Promised Land and A Northern Love Story; Yorkshire Post journalist Chris Bond; Chief Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE of Leeds Makkah Masjid.
Does freedom of religion and freedom of speech come as a package or can you pick and choose? Do those people who suggest freedom of expression should be “civilised” and that we should be wary of causing offence to people’s religious sensibilities have a point? Or is the world full of offended people and any idea of holding back ends up with us not being able to talk about important issues?
The latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine is out now and features a special focus on the threats to free expression within refugee camps. We follow the steps of Italian journalist Fabrizio Gatti, who spent four years undercover investigating migrant routes from Africa to Europe. We look at how social media has become a blessing and a curse – offering a connection back home and a means of surveillance. We have pieces by refugees, written from inside camps about persisting myths; by those struggling to claim rights as workers; and by those who have set up innovative, creative projects to share their stories.
The first 20 ticket holders also receive a free copy of the latest issue of Index on Censorship magazine, our global quarterly magazine, which features articles and essays from Ukraine, Belarus, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. This issue carries analysis of pressure on the media in Botswana and Zimbabwe as well as an interview with former attorney general Dominic Grieve.
Index is also just planning its Stand Up for Satire event, to be held in London on July 30th, with comedians Al Murray, Shappi Korsandi, Grainne Maguire and Frankie Boyle.