Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Google Social Networking Site Orkut Blocked by UAE

For over a year, the UAE has blocked regular access to a google social networking site Orkut. You can read about it a few places, but start here, at a July 26, 2007 posting on a UAE community blog that has a few useful links to help you send a protest to Etisalat, which has the UAE internet monopoly, at least it did until February, 2007, according to Wikipedia.

Such gross censorship is a reminder that sometimes tolerance and good old-fashioned liberal values are important.

Anyone who says this is a "Western" value needs to read about the history of the Ottoman empire in contrast with the Christian powers of Europe, a point I mention since the ostensible reason the site was shut down had to do with offenses against Islam.

Start with John Locke, discussing the advantage Christians in Istanbul had over those in London, since the Ottoman emperor did not take sides in their religious disputes there:
[P]eace, equity, and friendship are always mutually to be observed by particular churches, in the same manner as by private persons, without any pretence of superiority or jurisdiction over one another.

That the thing may be made clearer by an example, let us suppose two churches — the one of Arminians, the other of Calvinists — residing in the city of Constantinople. Will anyone say that either of these churches has right to deprive the members of the other of their estates and liberty (as we see practised elsewhere) because of their differing from it in some doctrines and ceremonies, whilst the Turks, in the meanwhile, silently stand by and laugh to see with what inhuman cruelty Christians thus rage against Christians?

In the event, the history of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic practices defies the East-West label, imposed out of deep ignorance much later than the zero-points of the respective traditions. How else to explain that the birthplace of Christianity, Nicea or modern Iznik, is in Asia? In fact all the religions had their start at least there, if not further East in the Vedic traditions of modern India.

The UAE government says the site is blocked because of its sexual content but as readers point out, the UAE is not all that restrictive about such matters. Perhaps what happened is no more than meets the eye: the UAE blocked another social networking site because repressive governments do not condone unregulated and especially cross-national social networking, although they may be at least as worried about liberals as they are of Islamicists. Image above of still Church where Constantine signed "Nicean Creed," in modern Iznik, Turkey

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