Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The slippery slope?

The Danish cartoons kerfuffle continues to strike at the heart and soul of our democratic ethos.

Flemming Rose reports:

On Friday the trial against Belarussian editor Aleksandr Sdvizhkov opened in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Sdvizhkov, former deputy editor of the now closed independent weekly Zgoda, is charged with ”incitement to religious hatred” after having published the Danish Mohammed cartoons back in February 2006. If convicted Sdvizhkov can be sentenced from three to ten years in prison.

Eigth of the 12 original cartoons were printed alongside an editoral with the headline ”Political creation”, which chronicled the international uproar protesting the Danish cartoons in the beginning of February 2006.

At the time of publication Belarussian KGB-agents confiscated the weekly’s computers, discs, and other electronic equipment.

The probe against the paper was initiated after authorities received complaints from the state Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs on behalf of the small Muslim community in Belarus.
Deputy editor Aleksandr Sdvizhkov fled to Russia before criminal charges were brought against him, but he was arrested two months ago when he returned to Belarus.

The paper was closed down in March 2006 two days before the presidential election March 19 which paved the way for a third term for dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko. The cartoon affair was seen as a pretext for taking action against an outlet covering the candidate from the opposition.

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Isn't it ironic that, in the West, when once antisemitism was the tool of choice exploited by dictators to enforce totalitarian obedience, it is now the so-called anti-imperialist, anti-American, "antiracists" who resort to the same book burning mentality. Are Canadians so secure in the strength of their democratic commitment that they can sneer at anyone who points to Belarus as a possible eventuality? Can't we at least learn something from history?

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