Monday, December 19, 2005

The Freedom of Speech Another way to breathe!

The GLOB; Weekly Paper printed in Irbil/Kurdistan

Issue NO. 35 December 6, 2005

By Rebar Jaff

In a coffee shop near the CN Tower downtown Toronto, my friend and I decided to go and kill the little time we spared after a long day we'd had at work, and just to have a relaxing evening. Immediately after we arrived at the coffee shop, two gentlemen, who must have been from the Middle East or somewhere near that part of the world, walked in. They sat down at the table right next to us, having their coffee and cracking jokes between themselves. They were speaking English with a slight accent, but not enough to really tell their original background. I thought maybe they were Persian, but I wasn't too sure. I usually do not eavesdrop on people's conversations.

But at one point, the two men became so audible that their words were no longer unheard. I noticed they were soon talking politics. They started discussing the current events taking place in the Middle East in general, and debate got a little heated. I decided to join in by asking them where they were from. One of them spoke up and answered, "The Dead Sea." I figured they were either Jordanian or Israeli since these were the only two countries whose borders touched that sea. Well, the West Bank does too, but that is besides the point. I questioned which one of the three they came from. The same guy answered and said "Neither." I thought they were either pulling my leg, or were just simply far above the ground… high! But they didn't look it. I asked, "…but isn't that where the Dead Sea is?"

When they noticed I was finding their response a bit absurd, the other man expanded on his buddy's reply and said that they came from a Middle Eastern country where they couldn't, nor would they still be able to say what they wanted. "Like that narrows it down for me to guess!" I said to myself.

The two came from Tehran, where they both had attended post-secondary institutions and successfully completed their graduate studies. They went on by saying that they couldn't express their views and opinions, and that they were beaten for comments they had made during their university years. In fact, one of them had even spent a number of years behind bars, tortured for having published articles in which he had slightly criticized his country's government actions, and so forth. Ultimately, one of them uttered, "That is why we said we came from 'The Dead Sea,' because we did not feel alive there." "We were constantly beaten. We couldn't even breathe, man!" he said, almost indignantly.

The three of us continued talking. We discussed a number of states globally and jumped from one country to another, in relation to their issues concerning freedom of speech and expression, and other sacred things as such. We took an international tour in less than the two hours that we spoke for.

This time, we made a stop in Denmark! It is gloomy and unfortunate, but Denmark also made it to the list of the freedom abusers within our gossip session. It didn't take long, and it was the center of attention for the remainder of that occasion. We conversed how the Danish government is inclining to follow the Turkish government's orders by pushing for the shutdown of a certain Kurdish media organ based in their country due to the fact that Ms. Ankara believes the establishment is promoting the separatist ideas of certain Kurdish terrorists' and their so-called frightening agenda towards Turkey's "strong" national unity!

Is Denmark going to violate one of the fundamental principles that the European Union prides today, the freedom of press and media? Couldn't Denmark do any better? In order to maintain its good reputation worldwide and sustain its civilized qu ality of country status among the international community, it is critical that Denmark strikes down the Turkish demands of preventing the augmentation and growth of the freedom of speech. Denmark should be lecturing Turkey that there exists a magical word called "freedom," instead of Turkey brainwashing Denmark and telling it otherwise. After all, it is Turkey that is beseeching for membership to join the European Union, not Denmark into the Middle Eastern "Dividedness."

Before we forget, we must add that the United States should also intervene more actively and be a bit more responsive to such matters. The US should be strongly condemning such actions of the Turkish government's or any other system's, especially in a region that desperately needs democracy and freedom, things that the United States cannot wait to witness in the area!