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Wednesday, March 30 • 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Blogging Ideology: Consequences of religious expression in South Asia

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In South Asia, society is dominated by religion, where blasphemy laws are made and implemented and one religion gets priority over others. This practice greatly undermines freedom of expression, where the slightest comment on any religious account can be termed blasphemous and the author/speaker of such a comment can be charged and held punishable. This response comes not only from the law but also comes in the form of vigilante action by members of the public angered by perceived blasphemy. In countries like Pakistan, for example, there have been many incidents in the recent past, where groups of people or even individuals have taken lives of others on mere accusations of committing blasphemy. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives everyone the “right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. Through Article 19, we have also been given the freedom to expression ourselves freely, through any medium. However, across Asia, these two freedoms combined online have created a dangerous nexus that has cost many their lives, security and freedom. Religion, especially in societies and states that have and ‘official’ religion tends to be a matter of extreme sensitivity.
Opinions against or in deviation with the majority religions can be dangerous. While the internet has empowered people to express and broadcast their opinions to a previously unimaginable number of people, the same ability has also exposed people with diverse and deviating ideological and religious expressions to volatile and violent reactions. From hate speech bordering on harassment to threats, attacks and murders – bloggers and journalists focused on speech of a religious nature have increasingly faced persecution. This panel will explore a few key questions including; how does one regulate matters of faith and spirituality, especially those where different rights come in conflict? How much freedom of expression should there be, when it comes to speech and opinions about religions? and what have been the consequences of such speech for bloggers in countries like Bangladesh and Maldives? And what possible policy and practical solutions can be employed to make the online space safer for ideological speech?

Speakers
avatar for Asad Baig

Asad Baig

Executive Director, Media Matters for Democracy
A broadcast journalist by training and an information technologist by education. My work focuses on advocacy around freedom of expression and religious expression, media, and media safety. I have a keen interest in ICT and technology for journalism and development. | | MMfD in Pakistan works on advocacy around freedom of expression online and offline, developing ICT technologies for media and journalism, and campaigning around gender... Read More →
avatar for Sahar Habib Ghazi

Sahar Habib Ghazi

Managing Editor, Global Voices
I help run the unique and borderless Global Voices community and completely virtual newsroom, where we cover 167 countries in 35 languages, through our stellar group of 1400 volunteer writers and editors. I am also on the board of Media Matters for Democracy, a media policy and research group in Pakistan. Before joining Global Voices in 2012, I worked as a journalist in Pakistan where I covered war, elections, natural disasters, and human... Read More →
FH

Furhan Hussain

Bytes for All
YR

Yameen Rashid

Blogger, Maldives


Wednesday March 30, 2016 12:00pm - 1:15pm
The Nest

Attendees (22)