Media Mashup: December 30, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 8.56.50 PMHezbollah and Syria

Hezbollah’s assistance to the regime has greatly increased since 2011, shifting from an initial advisory role and limited military assistance to full military support. In practical terms, Hezbollah’s fighters have participated in both offensive and defensive operations, often embedded with the Syrian military, and have represented a key force-multiplier for the Assad regime. Over the past years, Hezbollah fighters have indeed helped the regime win a number of important tactical victories.

This just in: The State Department lists bringing peace to Syria one of its major accomplishments for 2015!

http://www.fpri.org/articles/2015/12/syrian-civil-war-and-its-consequences-hezbollah

The Islamic State And The First Amendment

Should the courts restrict freedom of speech when it comes to the self-proclaimed Islamic State? It’s much more than an interesting intellectual debate.

The New York Times provides an overview>Gerald Posner of the University of Chicago supports passing a law to deter potential consumers from viewing dangerous sites. While the law would apply to all Internet users, his goal is to head off the radicalization of those he described as “naïve people” who research the Islamic State out of curiosity, “rather than sophisticated terrorists.”

Gerald Posner of the University of Chicago supports passing a law to deter potential consumers from viewing dangerous sites. While the law would apply to all Internet users, his goal is to head off the radicalization of those he described as “naïve people” who research the Islamic State out of curiosity, “rather than sophisticated terrorists.”

“His proposal would make it illegal to go onto websites that glorify the Islamic State or support its recruitment, or to distribute links to such sites. He would impose graduated penalties, starting with a warning letter, then fines or prison for repeat offenders, to convey that “looking at ISIS-related websites, like looking at websites that display child pornography, is strictly forbidden.”

“David G. Post, a former professor of constitutional law who is a senior fellow at the Open Technology Institute of the New America Foundation in Washington, was one of many legal experts to condemn Mr. Posner’s idea.

“I think it is a slippery slope,” Mr. Post said in an interview. In a law blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, he wrote that efforts to suppress radical views “can be far too easily twisted into a prohibition against dissenting viewpoints.”

For more, see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/us/isis-influence-on-web-prompts-second-thoughts-on-first-amendment.html

A Sensible Muslim Voice Is Lost

Fatema Mernissi, a voice of rationalism in the emotionalism of Islam, has died in Morocco. She was 75.

The American Interest noted: “Few Americans or Europeans have ever heard of her, I know. That is not likely to change with her death. Margalit Fox’s excellent feature obituary in the December 9 New York Times was the only significant literary eulogy to appear in the American press. Mernissi’s passing got somewhat more attention in France since most of her 15 books were written in French, as befits her youthful attendance at the Sorbonne. But her doctorate was from Brandeis, and her first and perhaps most famous book, Beyond the Veil, was an adaptation of her dissertation, both written in English.

“Why might Americans care to know about Mernissi? Because she lived her life doing what, now once again after the atrocities in Paris, Beirut, and San Bernadino, has returned under the guise of a call for a “war of ideas.” In the Western discourse on radical Islam, the same question keeps recurring: Why do traditional and serious Muslims not more avidly defend real mainstream Islam and urge reform within it in the face of radical challenges from Salafi extremists? It’s not a bad question, but it is not as though no such voices have been raised. Fatema Mernissi lived her entire life on the front lines of that struggle. She fought that war of ideas long before 9/11. Without her, it is no exaggeration to say, we would be even worse off than we are.”

I will be off until Monday. Happy New Year!

Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to charper@temple.edu.

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