Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our dawn will come

I feel too weary and depressed to summarise them in any detail, so will instead point you to the Devil's Kitchen's explanation of the two most recent attempts to stifle and corral free speech in Europe: a proposal that blog writers be forced to register, be certified and pay a tax before being permitted to publish, even if they make no money from their blogging, and the European Union's Racism and Xenophobia Directive, under which European bloggers will be imprisoned for expressing inaccurate or unfashionable opinions - including opinions that are, in my opinion, vile and incorrect.

But nobody should ever be threatened, hurt, killed or imprisoned for expressing an opinion. That is a fundamental of a free society.

The neo-conservative ambition of exporting democracy is noble, even if it is a piece of misguided leftist idealism. I tend to sympathise with it. The idea of importing totalitarianism is less appealing. Yet it is the latter that has gripped European governments. We will soon have joined Egypt (and Austria, for that matter) as a country that imprisons writers.

Meanwhile, a blogger who has been imprisoned already for expressing opinions that are unfashionable in the eyes of the religious and anti-democratic authorities in Egypt, Kareem, has written a letter from prison. In this, he refers to the case of three German anti-fascist campaigners who were tried in 1943 for anonymous pamphleting on campuses - something analogous to modern blogging, strangely enough. He quotes one of them, Sofia Scholl, who told the judge who had sentenced her to death:

The garbage of history will be stuffed with you soon. The coming generations will not have mercy with you. They will do as I am doing now. They will curse you. Please, make sure that no one will shed a tear for your sake, because you do not deserve it. Tomorrow is ours. It does not matter how tyrant you are in your attempts to silence us and confiscate our views. You should be aware for our revival because your days are counting down. Your dark night approached its end. Our dawn will come up very soon. Tomorrow is ours.
I'm sorry, Ms Scholl. You gave your life in vain. We have betrayed you.

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