Freedom of Speech

Regional News • Europe
Belgian elementary schoolteacher suspended over Prophet Muhammad cartoon.

A Brussels district has suspended an elementary school teacher who showed a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed while discussing the murder of a French teacher who had used the same image, its spokesman said Friday.

The Belgian teacher, who works in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, showed one of the cartoons previously published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo while explaining Samuel Paty’s death.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Report points to a serious risk to academic freedom in Brazil
Universidade de São Paulo
Universidade de São Paulo Credit: Rafael Vianna Croffi (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

A report released by the Global Public Policy Institute(GPPi) highlights offensives on several fronts against Brazilian professors, researchers and institutions. The academic freedom to research and teaching, in an environment with didactic and scientific autonomy in public universities, is guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution but is under threat in the country.

According to the document, the corrosion of academic freedom began to accelerate in the last electoral campaign, with the then-candidate Jair Bolsonaro disseminating aggressive rhetoric against universities, which according to the current president would be the focus of "leftist indoctrination".

The report states that "Top-down measures from the Brazilian government, administered through legal, institutional channels and combined with constant discursive attacks, have created an increasingly hostile environment for academics, who constitute a significant opposition group to the federal government."

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook removes accounts belonging to far-right group "Patriot Prayer"
Joey Gibson speaking at the Patriot Prayer and Solidarity Against Hate demonstrations in Seattle, 2017
Joey Gibson speaking at the Patriot Prayer and Solidarity Against Hate demonstrations in Seattle, 2017 Credit: Tiffany Von Arnim from Seattle / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Facebook has removed accounts and pages belonging to the far-right group "Patriot Prayer" and its founder Joey Gibson to remove "violent social militias" from its platform, so a company spokesperson.

"We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior," so Facebook in a blog post.

Regional News • Europe • France
Emmanuel Macron refuses to condemn Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Prophet Mohammad
Emmanuel Macron in 2017 - adaption: Added background and blur
Emmanuel Macron in 2017 - adaption: Added background and blur Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The president defended citizens' right to freedom of speech. His remarks came as the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by gunmen in 2015, said it was republishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday it was not his place to pass judgment on the decision by Charlie Hebdo to publish a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad.

Regional News • Europe • France
Charlie Hebdo to reprint Prophet Mohammed cartoons ahead of trial
Flowers, candles, pens and many drawings and anonymous sketches remembering the people who died at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters.
Flowers, candles, pens and many drawings and anonymous sketches remembering the people who died at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters. Credit: Patrizia Torres (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo announced Tuesday it would republish cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed to mark the start of the trial stemming from the massacre committed at its Paris offices in 2015.

Charlie Hebdo editor Laurent "Riss" Sourisseau wrote on the latest edition of the magazine: "We will never live down. We will never give up."

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
"A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" – a open letter warning against "intolerance of opposing views" signed by 150 public figures, including authors Rowling and Atwood
"A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" – a open letter warning against "intolerance of opposing views" signed by 150 public figures, including authors Rowling and Atwood
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler

Around 150 public figures have signed an open letter titled "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" warning of the spread of "censoriousness" and "intolerance of opposing views" in today's culture. Among the signatories are writer and activist Gloria Steinem and authors J.K. Rowling and Margarete Atwood.

The letter states that "powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society," but that this has also led to "a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity."

"The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. [...] But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought," the letter continues.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Memoir of Trump's niece Mary Trump temporarily blocked by NY judge
Cover of "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man" by Mary L. Trump, Simon & Schuster
Cover of "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man" by Mary L. Trump, Simon & Schuster Credit: Simon & Schuster, via Amazon

On Tuesday, Judge Hal B. Greenwald of the New York State Supreme Court temporarily blocked the publication of Mary L. Trump's memoir "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man". Donald Trump's younger brother Robert Trump had filed a temporary restraining order on June 24 to block the book that's described as a "revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him," stating that Mary Trump was breaking a confidentiality agreement.

Mary Trump is represented by Ted Boutrous, a First Amendment attorney, who said the order "flatly violates the First Amendment," and that they would appeal immediately. "This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in an election year, should not be suppressed even for one day," so Boutrous.

Regional News • Americas • United States
ACLU Minnesota files class-action lawsuit against police on behalf of attacked journalists

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has announced that the ACLU Minnesota has "filed a class-action lawsuit overnight on behalf of journalists who were targeted and attacked by Minneapolis and Minnesota police". This follows the repeated attacks on journalists from different publishers and agencies by the police during the protests.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazilian Senate to vote new law criminalising the usage of fake accounts in social networks
Brazilian Senate session
Brazilian Senate session Credit: Leopoldo Silva/Agência Senado

Brazil's Senate is going to vote today a new law to criminalise the usage of fake accounts and bots on social networks.

The proposal, presented by senator Alessandro Vieira and representatives Felipe Rigoni and Tabata Amaral, establishes that platforms face sanctions if they don’t provide transparent reports, do not label bots, or don’t highlight corrections coming from independent fact-checkers.

Expressing concerns about the proposal, Flávia Lefèvre, a counselor of the Brazilian internet steering committee, stated: “All counsellors are overly concerned with this proposal. It could compromise one of the principles that are in the decalogue of the internet and in article 14 of [Brazil’s internet bill of rights], which is the non-liability of the network provider. This is a principle that guarantees freedom of expression and prevents censorship”.

Regional News • Europe
Second Hungarian Taken by Police for Writing on Facebook

Five policemen showed up at a man's home in the town of Gyula, Hungary, to take him in. The reason: he posted on Facebook about the 1170 beds that were emptied in the local hospital. This is the second time Orbán's "war on fake news" has resulted in action by the police since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in Hungary, when the government bill giving the Prime Minister near-total power was passed, including a section that criminalizes the spread of misinformation about the virus. During the four hours of questioning at the local police precinct, the man kept asking for his lawyer until he got released but was left to get home on his own means, regardless of his physical disability.

Regional News • Americas • Mexico
Journalist Telésforo Santiago Enríquez murdered in the southern state of Oaxaca Mexico

Enríquez taught indigenous languages, was an indigenous rights activist and the founder of El Cafetal, a community radio on which he often criticized the local authorities. He received death threats in February and was shot on 2nd May. He was the fourth journalist to be gunned down in Mexico this year.

Technology • Internet & Web
Facebook names the first 20 people on its new content oversight board
Members of the Oversight Board
Members of the Oversight Board Credit: Facebook (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Facebook announced today that new content oversight board includes a former head of state, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and several constitutional law experts and rights advocates in its first 20 members.

The content oversight board is an independent body that the social networking platform has launched to reconsider some of its most important content decisions.

The members contract directly with the Oversight Board, are not Facebook employees, and cannot be removed by Facebook. They are Michael McConnell, John Samples, Julie Owono, Nicolas Suzor, Emi Palmor, Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Ronaldo Lemos, András Sajó, Alan Rusbridger, Nighat Dad, Pamela Karlan, Maina Kiai, Katherine Chen, Tawakkol Karman, Endy Bayuni, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Sudhir Krishnaswamy, Jamal Greene, Catalina Botero-Marino, Evelyn Aswad.