Sunday, October 05, 2003

The free and the dead

Free speech is fundamental to liberty. It is the platform on which all other freedoms are based. Because if we cannot speak of restraints on freedom, how can we ensure those freedoms continue?
During the war in Iraq, the USA bombed Al-Jazeera's Baghdad HQ. It knew it was there - Al-Jazeera had told them three months before the bombing exactly where it was. A journalist was killed.
His wife tell us in the Guardian today about the pain she feels because those responsible are not brought to justice. They never will be, of course, they are the arbiters of justice themselves.
The Americans did not restrict themselves to bombing the station's HQ. They have continually harassed Al-Jazeera and have threatened to close it down. Most shocking to any who believe the press should be allowed to work unharassed, an Al-Jazeera journalist was arrested in Spain, and he is in jail there, with no bail, seemingly because he didn't show sufficient anti-Taliban bias (story here).
Coming as it does from a part of the world that stamps out free expression, Al-Jazeera, whose slogan is "'The right to speak up'. This translates into allowing everyone to express their opinion freely, encouraging debates, viewpoints and counter viewpoints.", might be forgiven for believing that it would be welcomed by the West - who claim to be the defenders of certain values, including freedom of speech.
You have to ask why it's not.


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