Archive for January 8th, 2007

Jokes and jail time

In Morrocco, two journalists are faced with three to five years in jail for writing an article on jokes about sex, religion and politics. The charges? Defaming Islam and damaging morality. The article was published in Nichane magazine, which has since been shut down by the Moroccan government. One of the defendants, Mr Ksikes defended the article:

Mr Ksikes told the court he believed Morocco was a funny society. To ask the magazine why it told the jokes would be like asking the French playwright Moliere why he made people laugh, Mr Ksikes said. – BBC article

What moral society can’t take a joke?

Winds of change in the South Pacific

A friend of mine is currently lounging in Fiji (the lucky bastard), and has sent back word that the recent coup on the island nation seems to have had little affect on the atmosphere – the people are friendly, the beaches serene.

Today the new government seems to be taking shape rather smoothly, though there are varying opinions on the process. Fiji has experienced four coups in recent history (much like another nation) and it could be imagined there would be some frustration at this point:

Coups are becoming a bad habit in Fiji. If we continue to show the world that Fiji reacts like this, we will get a bad reputation. Whenever someone hates the government, you cannot just take it over. It’s totally against the law. – Fijian student, BBC news article

The student has a solid point, given that the main issue of contention that aroused the coup surrounded the passing of new legislation that was unpopular, and even considered racist. One would think that the problem could be fixed democratically, through the voice of public opinion. But now-deposed prime minister Laisenia Quarase seems to be acting quite cordial, given the circumstances, wishing the interim government well.

But Quarase might be smiling smugly on the sidelines now because he understands the pickle Fiji has caught itself in. The question now becomes, can a government forged by power and aggression ever hope to maintain peace?

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January 2007