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Tag Archives: Civil society

Snowden to Cambridge Analytica – making the case for the social value of privacy

An image of Mark Zuckerberg in Shadow Ink app. 2016. Wikicommons/ Annika Laas. Some rights reserved.After days of prodding by the media, Mark Zuckerberg has offered a mea culpa, apologizing for the “breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”. The news that Facebook shared user data with a number of organizations including Cambridge Analytica seems to reflect the paradox of surveillance society – that our personal data …

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Thanks to social media, do teenage girls like Ahed Tamimi now have the power to influence wars?

Gaza demonstration in support of Ahed Tamimi. Photo: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images.In December 2017, a then 16-year-old Palestinian girl named Ahed Tamimi was filmed slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier outside her family home in the occupied West Bank. She had just heard that her 14-year-old cousin Muhammad had been shot in the head with a rubber bullet. Tamimi then faced up to 10 years in prison on charges of assault and throwing stones. Last week she accepted a plea deal of eight …

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When bully boys dictate the West’s agenda, Turkey invades Syria with impunity

How can bully boys and aggressors label a resistance movement ‘terrorist’ when the whole question of Turkey’s accession to the EU turned around its democratic deficits? Kurdish women Infiltrate Conservative party HQ in London to highlight plight of besieged city of Afrin.On 19 January, Kurdish people and their supporters stood outside the Turkish embassy in London denouncing Turkey as a fascist state because it had begun cross-border shelling of Afrin, a predominantly Kurdish area, in Northern Syria. An invasion was …

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The right to blasphemy: is this the boundary between civilisation and barbarism?

Zineb El Rhazoui at the London conference. Photo: Victoria Gugenheim.In heated debates following the 2015 massacre at Charlie Hebdo, apologists for the violence condemned the ‘racism’ of its cartoons. Staff of the French satirical magazine were frequently presented as part of a white racist left. But how many people knew that – along with an Algerian copy-editor, Mustapha Ourrad – there was a young Moroccan woman, a journalist named Zineb El Rhazoui, on its payroll? This question reeks of the …

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“I don’t want to die because I’m an atheist”: ex-Muslims speak out

Deeyah Khan at the Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in London. Photo: Victoria Gugenheim.While making her documentary Islam’s Non-Believers, award-winning Norwegian filmmaker Deeyah Khan says she came to realise that Maryam Namazie and her group, Council of ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB), were plugged into a growing international movement of people leaving Islam, sometimes at great risk to themselves.  Broadcast by ITV last year, and shown at the Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in London last month, …

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Surviving a machete attack: the story of Bangladeshi-American freethinker Bonya Ahmed

Bonya Ahmed. Photo: Ritu Mahendru.“We stand on the right side of history” was the title of the keynote speech given by Bonya Ahmed, a Bangladeshi-American freethinker, at the international Conference on Freedom of Conscience and Expression in London last month. The price she has paid for standing on the right side of history was reflected in her troubled eyes and sliced off thumb, which testified to her own recent experience. In February 2015, Ahmed and her husband, the author Avijit …

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Where is the line between Islam and Islamism?

Public art protest organised by Victoria Gugenheim in solidarity with persecuted freethinkers, at the conference in London. Photo: CEMB.In the ten years of its existence, the Council for Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) has organised annual conferences to draw attention to issues facing ex-Muslims, their status as apostates and blasphemers, the distinction between Islam and Islamism, islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism, the links with other religious fundamentalisms, and religion and women’s rights. To mark CEMB’s tenth anniversary, the international conference on Freedom …

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The future of the internet depends on you

People from the freedom of expression, privacy and media development communities must get engaged, to ensure that one of the most important communications platforms ever invented remains open, pluralistic and democratic. Article 19, 2008. Flickr/Val Kerry. Some rights reserved.In this article Andreas Reventlow writes about the role that new participants can play in human rights advocacy for internet policymaking, now that these processes have become more accessible to non-experts. These reflections also provide a timely introduction to the next public …

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How Rojava-inspired women’s councils have spread across Europe

Mesopotamia Dance Society, at the Challenging Capitalist Modernity conference in Hamburg. Credit: Babak Bataghva, Network for an Alternative Quest. Every time I speak at public meetings in Britain about the gender equality and direct democracy experiment being carried out in Rojava, Northern Syria, I am invariably asked by an inspired audience what we can learn from there – and how can we implement it here. Given the growing consensus in the west about the importance of equal pay and equal …

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State surveillance is a global threat to press freedom

The state should not have the power to secretly identify then persecute whistleblowers. Edward Snowden on a laptop, receiving the Stuttgart Peace Prize from the organization Die AnStifter in 2014.Thomas Kienzle/Press Association. In October 2014, and following Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK wanted to bring people together to discuss the implications for the media industry, as a whole but with a particular emphasis on front-line journalists. These are the people who are …

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