Reuters: Belarus jails Mohammed cartoon publisher

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BELARUS (Reuters) – Belarus on Friday jailed for three years an editor of an independent newspaper who reproduced cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that first appeared in Denmark in 2005 and caused mass demonstrations across the Muslim world.

The 12 cartoons portraying the founder of Islam, including one showing the prophet with a bomb in his turban, outraged Muslims who saw them as blasphemous. More than 50 people died in protests across the world the following year.

Belarussian authorities shut down the “Zgoda” (Consensus) paper in March 2006, around the time when other European journals began reprinting the cartoons. The security service, still known by its Soviet-era name, the KGB, began an investigation after Muslims in the ex-Soviet state complained.

Editor Alexander Sdvizhkov was sentenced to three years in jail in a closed session of the court for incitement of religious and national hatred.

“May God and the holy cross be with us,” Sdvizhkov said afterwards. His lawyer said she would appeal.

Muslims constitute about two or three percent of the 10 million residents of the country wedged between Russia and three members of the European Union. The Muslim community had called for leniency in the case.

Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative for the 56-nation Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, protested against Sdvizhkov’s jailing, calling the case against him “shocking” and saying he should be freed.

“Persecution of journalists for trying to inform the public on important issues is a misuse of hate speech laws,” Haraszti said in a statement from Vienna. “In fact the Belarus government has used the international controversy around the cartoons as a pretext to eliminate a critical voice from public life.”

President Alexander Lukashenko is accused by the West of ruling the country with an iron grip, jailing opponents, shutting down independent media and rigging polls, including his own re-election to a third term in 2006.

(Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky in Minsk; writing by Sabina Zawadzki)

H/T: Holger Danske

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Always On Watch January 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I hate conspiracy theories. But 2008, even in these first few weeks, is appearing to be The Year of Silencing the Politically Incorrect Voices.

2 Gramfan January 18, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Seems to me we need a new ‘blog, perhaps a combined effort:

We have Jihadwatch, Dhimmiwatch, Islamwatch and now we need “Free Speech Watch”.

3 1389 January 18, 2008 at 9:32 pm


1389 Blog IS “Free Speech Watch” for the counterjihad!


4 Muslims Against Sharia January 18, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Islamofascist-Dhimmi Axis Assault on Free Speech

Muslims Against Sharia strongly denounce President Lukashenko and his KGB thugs for imprisoning Alexander Sdvizhkov. While most of former Soviet Republics are embracing Democracy and Reform, Belarus continues to enforce fascist rules of communist era. Muslims Against Sharia demand immediate release of Alexander Sdvizhkov and reinstatement of “Zgoda” newspaper.

But Alexander Sdvizhkov is not alone. The latest casualties of Islamofascist-Dhimmi Axis Assault on Free Speech include Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld, Fouad al-Farhan, Joe Kaufman, Alexander Sdvizhkov, Mark Steyn, and TomaShot. Are you going to be next?

5 Gramfan January 19, 2008 at 10:06 am

Free Speech is something many will not appreciate till we have lost it.
It is heading that way.

Also 1389 published my piece called Big Yellow Taxi: Christian Pastors, Muslims, and Free Speech in Australia.
Strictly for the “oldies”.

6 Kerry Lanaux January 21, 2008 at 7:39 am

I will speak what I think. I will not bow to threats of jail or even death. I think I shall be put to the test soon enough.

7 Cryoj November 19, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I’d recall the era of to canary that too!

Admin 1389 asks: What exactly are you trying to say?

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