Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Friday, February 10, 2012

On Facebook now

I am now posting on Facebook, it is easier to link to various reports there. For those on Facebook, please type "Banned books and other forms of censorship" in the search box, and press "like" to receive these postings. I will try to continue posting here as well.

- Steve Denney

Friday, August 06, 2010

China tightens internet censorship in Tibet

From the Tibetan Review August 5:

"All internet cafes across Tibet have been ordered to finish installing by the end of Aug’10 a state-of-the-art surveillance system which would not only restrict contents that could be viewed by identified surfers but also monitor their internet activities. 'All the Internet cafes must now install it,' Radio Free Asia online Aug 3 quoted Chen Jianying, head of the customer service department of the industry group Internet Cafes Online, as saying.

"Under a nationwide scheme, which took effect Aug 1, second-generation identity cards belonging to the person using the Internet must be swiped to allow online access. Viewed content can then be traced back to that identity, using the surveillance system."

Click here for full text of article.

Indonesian court upholds ban on Australian movie Balibo

An Indonesian court has upheld a ban in the country on the acclaimed Australian film Balibo which depicts Indonesian soldiers murdering five Australian journalists in East Timor in 1975.

"The film Balibo could incite political sensitivities in relations between countries," Judge Andri Mosepa said.

Click here for full text of article from the Herald Sun, August 5.

Khmer Rouge film to be shown in US, banned in Cambodia

A documentary film Enemies of the People, about Nuon Chea and the Khmer Rouge murderous policies, banned in Cambodia, is coming to the United States to be shown. Thet Sambath, the film's producer, said he was repeatedly denied permission by the Ministry of Culture to show the film in Phnom Penh, with no explanation ever given. Click here for full text of article from Asia Times Online, August 6.

Banned book week coming up

From School Library Journal, August 6:

"..The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) is urging booksellers and librarians around the country to participate in the September 25-October 2 awareness campaign aimed at celebrating the freedom to read.

"Last year, there were 460 book challenges, according to the American Library Association.."

Click here for full text of article.

Book on gay youth pulled from NJ library

The book Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, described as "a collection of first-person essays by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens, sharing their stories of coming out of the closet," has been removed from the the library at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in New Jersey.

Click here for full text of report, from the New York Daily News, August 4.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Protestant church to burn Koran(?)

Amy Sullivan of Time reports, July 30:

"A conservative church in Florida is organizing "Burn a Qu'ran Day" to commemorate September 11, which happens to fall during Ramadan this year. Leaders at the Dove World Outreach Center say Islam is a "violent and oppressive religion," and in their own nod toward religious tolerance, they have invited Muslims to attend the Qu'ran-burning event to engage in dialogue..."

Click here for full text of blog, and here for article by Michelle Vu in the Christian Post, July 28.

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on Al-Gosaibi’s books


"A ban on the sale of books authored by Minister of Labor Ghazi Al-Gosaibi has been lifted, announced Minister of Information Abdul Aziz Khoja on Facebook.

"Khoja wrote on his Facebook wall that it is inappropriate not to stock Al-Gosaibi’s intellectual writings in the Kingdom’s libraries.

"Al-Gosaibi’s books have been banned for several years but available in neighboring Arab countries such as Bahrain, Lebanon and Egypt. The minister of labor is currently receiving medical treatment at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh. Among his controversial works is a collection of poetry called 'A Battle Without a Flag' and a novel called 'The Apartment of Freedom,' which tells the story of a group of young intellectuals who share an apartment in Cairo while at university.

"Abdo Khal, author of 'Spewing Sparks,' which won the international prize for Arabic fiction but is banned in the Kingdom, said he hopes the lifting of the ban on Al-Gosaibi’s books will pave the way for the writings of other authors to be allowed into the Kingdom..."

Click here for full text of article, published August 1.

Why Turkey banned Google

From article by D. Vogi:

"Beginning in June 2010, the government of Turkey began restricting its citizens' ability to access websites owned by Google, beginning with YouTube and then extending to the company's other sites as well. Other affected services began with Google Books, Google Docs (Documents), Google Analytics (tracking software used by other websites), and Google Translate. YouTube itself has already been restricted in Turkey for years. The government's Transportation and Communication Ministry cited 'legal reasons' for the new ban, although critics were understandably quick to suspect that the real motive was censorship..."

Click here for full text.

Human Rights Watch awards dissident writers

From a press release of Human Rights Watch today:

"Human Rights Watch announced Hellman/Hammett grants today for 42 writers from 20 countries in recognition of their commitment to free expression and courage in the face of political persecution.

"All are writers whose work and activism have been suppressed by their governments. Beyond their own experiences, they represent numerous other writers and journalists whose personal and professional lives have been disrupted as a result of repressive government policies that aim to control speech and publications..."

Click here for full text.

Chinese author to publish book critical of premier

Cara Anna of Associated Press reports that dissident writer Yu Jie plans to publish a book in Hong Kong critical of China's premier Wen Jiabao despite police threats that he could be imprisoned. Anna says: "..Yu, 36, was a best-selling author before his books were banned in China not long after Wen became premier in 2003. Yu helped found the Independent PEN Center in China, which fights for freedom of expression, and is a vocal Christian who has angered authorities by outspokenly advocating religious freedom."

Click here for full text of article, published today.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Malaysia ban on political cartoon book challenged

Book ban challenged
By S. Tamarai Chelvi

KUALA LUMPUR (July 26, 2010): Malaysiakini, and cartoonist Zunar's publishing company today filed separate applications for leave for judicial review against a government decision to ban Zunar's political cartoon books 1 Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun...

For full article click here:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Instructor of Catholicism claims loss of job violates academic freedom

URBANA – An adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism at the University of Illinois has lost his teaching job there, and he claims it is a violation of his academic freedom.

Kenneth Howell was told after the spring semester ended that he would no longer be teaching in the UI's Department of Religion. The decision came after a student complained about a discussion of homosexuality in the class in which Howell taught that the Catholic Church believes homosexual acts are morally wrong...

Click here for full article.

Malaysia's press censorship

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The growing power of the Internet probably means government censorship of opposition newspapers is pointless

The recent controversy surrounding the Malaysian government's crackdown on the opposition parties' publications Suara Keadilan and Harakah rekindles the need for some much-deserved attention on the state of press freedom, or the lack of it, in the country.

Under the terms of Malaysia's Printing Presses and Publications Act, it is a criminal offense to possess or use a printing press without a license from the Home Affairs Minister. Possession or use of an unlicensed press subjects the user to imprisonment for up to three years and/or fines up to RM20,000 (US$6,240) plus forfeiture of the deposit for the license...

Click here for full article.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Banned books painting exhibit

Washington, DC artist Dana Ellyn will have a solo exhibition of her recent paintings, "Banned", at the Martin Luther King Library from June 20 through July 31, 2010. The exhibit will coincide with the annual conference of the American Library Association, which is taking place in Washington, DC June 24 through June 30...

Click here for full text, which also includes paintings and video. My apologies for not posting this sooner.

Vietnam: Independent magazine keeps publishing despite harassment

Reporters Without Borders voices its full support for the writers and editors of To Quoc (, an independent fortnightly that has managed to keep appearing in print and online despite a campaign of threats and harassment. One of its founders told Reporters Without Borders the threats were part of a “dangerous plans by the conservatives” before the Communist Party’s next congress...

Click here for full report (published last April).

British author of death penalty book held in Singapore

Singapore police have arrested the British author of a book about the city-state's use of the death penalty.

Alan Shadrake, 75, is being detained on criminal defamation charges which carry a two-year prison sentence...

Click here for full report.

Mumbai congress will block Laine book, Sena style

The Congress is ready to enforce a ban on James Laine’s book on Shivaji, ‘Sena style’. State Congress chief Manikrao Thakre said on Tuesday that his party’s workers would not allow sale or circulation of the book. The Supreme Court had on Friday upheld the Bombay High Court’s verdict quashing the state ban imposed in 2003...

Click here for full text.

Cambodia bans ‘Political’ textbooks

THE Ministry of Information plans to pull two study books from bookshelves across the country after receiving a letter from Education Minister Im Sethy saying that they contain unsuitable “political” content...

Click here for full article.

‘Lamhaa’ Banned In Middle East Before July 16 Release

India, Mumbai, India (AHN) – National Award winning Director Rahul Dholakia’s latest Bollywood action thriller, Lamhaa, is all set for release on July 16 worldwide. However, the Middle East viewers will not be able to watch the movie since the UAE National Media Council Censorship Board banned its screening in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman because of its highly objectionable and controversial subject...

Click here for full article.

Michael Savage still banned from UK

He's still on Britain's least-wanted list.

Talk radio host Michael Savage has waged a vigorous fight against the British government, hoping to have his name removed from a list of 16 "undesirables" banned from the country on May 5, 2009, by then British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith...

Click here for full article.

Malaysia bans political cartoons critical of government

Malaysia banned three works of political cartoons that criticize the government, but one of the artists said Friday he was obligated to highlight issues other cartoonists would not.

The government said the cartoons in two books and a magazine posed a security threat.

Malaysia has banned dozens of publications in recent years, but usually because of sexual content or alleged misrepresentation of Islam, its official religion. But the latest ban is certain to spark complaints that the government is disallowing critical views....

Click here for full article.

Singapore censorship

In a space of a month, Singapore authorities caused a major uproar when they banned a film of an ex-political prisoner and arrested a British author who wrote a book about the death penalty in Singapore...

Click here for full article.

India State’s faulty note leads to lifting of ban on Shivaji book

The Maharashtra government’s faulty notification led to the lifting of the ban on American author James W. Laine’s book on Shivaji. A bench headed by Justice D.K Jain, which dismissed the state’s petition against a Bombay High Court verdict lifting the ban on the book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, said the notification was “too vague” to withstand legal scrutiny...

Click here for full article.

Publishers sue Va. prisons for banning law guide

Virginia prison officials have unconstitutionally banned inmates from receiving a book that teaches them how to file lawsuits concerning mistreatment or poor prison conditions, the book's publishers claim in a lawsuit filed Wednesday...

Click here for full article.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bombay court upholds ban on Islam book

The Bombay high court of India upheld in a Jan. 6 decision a ban issued in March 2007 by the state of Maharashtra against the book, Islam — A concept of Political World Invasion by R.V. Bhasin. The court said the book was banned not simply for criticizing Islam, but because its critique was not "bona fide or academic" and that it was written with malicious intent, declaring it to be an “aggravated form of criticism made with a malicious and deliberate intention to outrage the feelings of Muslims." It said freedom of expression guaranteed in India's constitution could not be abused to trigger “senseless destruction of lives and property and breach of public order." It declared as objectionable passages of the book about Jihad, the Quran, Mohammed Paigamber, Indian Muslims, and religious conversions. The court's decision said in part:

"NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974), in its application to the State of Maharashtra, the Government of Maharashtra hereby declares that every copy of the said Book “ISLAM – A Concept of Political World Invasion by Muslims” as well as the relevant translation thereof as the translated Book – “ISLAM RAJNAITIK VISHWA PAR MUSLIM AKRAMAN KI AVADHARANA” shall be banned and forfeited to the Government."

Bhasin vowed to appeal the case to India's Supreme Court.

Critics of the court's decision say it is not the book which was malicious but the "politically driven furor" against it, as one writer put it.

At least 10,000 copies were printed when the book was published in 2003. Police raided the office in 2007 and confiscated all available copies.

Sources:, Jan. 7 [Mayura Janwalkar], Jan. 9 [Kareena N Gianani]; [Sundeep Dougal], Jan. 9, with link to full text of court judgment.