This Week in Books #3: Authors and their freedom of expression

Today’s video discusses two specific cases regarding authors’ freedom of expression. Both cases are current and involve Salman Rushdie and Ahmed Naji. Maybe you know one or both of them, but maybe you don’t. Regardless of what you might think of either one of them as a person or their work, these two men are unfairly being targeted and singled out for their work. I’d rather talk about them and bring a little bit of awareness to their cases than just sit back and say nothing.

Take a few minutes to watch and let me know what you think of authors’ freedom of expression in the 21st century.

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7 thoughts on “This Week in Books #3: Authors and their freedom of expression

  1. I was going to use the E.L. James example, but you beat me to it. It’s hard for Americans to understand the political systems and ideals in other countries. Especially when it comes to expression. Not that I’m condoning those countries and their actions, but I, too, find it difficult to understand and accept.

    By the way, I can tell you’re under the weather. You sniffed so much during that video. I hope you feel better soon.

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    • Yes. I’m not feeling very well right now. Thanks! I actually had to record this one twice. And the first time I said that every religion has books that poke fun at or mock in some way. But those authors aren’t singled out with bounties placed on them. It’s an insane concept. Maybe one day I’ll see what others do. But right now I think it’s outrageous that authors in certain parts of the world have to deal with things like this.

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      • You’re right, every religion does have writers like that. Whether or not I, or any other reader, like what they have to say, it’s still their own choice and right to say what they will.

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      • At least it should be their right. But of course some authors are unable to really express their opinions because of where they’re from or what they’re criticizing. And that’s the most unfortunate thing.

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  2. I have read quite a few of Salman Rushdie’s books and Midnights Children is an amazing magical fantasy fiction set within the reality of India’s independence. He also wrote a book called Shame about President Zia, or maybe about him as it was allegorical in some way. That book was banned in Pakistan. Fair enough but it was then read more! But the fatwa on him has been a terrible personal problem for him and in the UK he has had police protection. It seems unfortunate that this has been revived with another bounty figure. I read part of Satanic Verses and again it is fantasy and magical realism but based on the story of Muhammad’s life. In the UK we have had the Monty Python comedy The Life of Brian, a skit on the life of Jesus. Very irreverent and very funny. It does seem to be part of our modern lifestyle to allow so much freedom to authors. However, Shakespeare and the theatre was censored. We may think we live in the 21st Century but all those other centuries of the past are still present unfortunately. I also read a it of the Egyptian writer who has been imprisoned as I follow a blog on Arabic literature. The reasons for his imprisonment must be legally questionable and there needs to be more outcry for his release. Good to see your video and interest.

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    • I know there’s a definitive level of censorship today. Of course there is. But being censored shouldn’t threaten an author’s life. It’d be different if some radical called for his death, but this is even worse. Especially at a time when the Iranians are just becoming a greater part of the global economy again. And the Egyptian author’s case is just as bad in my eyes. Because of how outrageous the whole thing is. Fine with Egyptian law forbidding graphic content in writing. But the penalty shouldn’t be imprisonment. And the sentence shouldn’t arise from someone who says he experienced sickness and heart palpitations. Makes their entire legal system look like a joke.

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      • It certainly does and if this fatwa against Salman Rushdie is being used again for extremist gain it is so sad for him. There were lots of demonstrations about it when it first came in.

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