…working for the Palestinian Government
I used to run a blog in Arabic called “Nour Alakl” and ran a satirical Facebook page under the pseudonym “Allah.” But in October 2010, Palestinian security forces stormed into an Internet cafe and arrested me.
This blogger has learned many things from this experience
Until then, I had been under the impression that I had a right to freedom of speech and to the freedom of belief. But in jail, I was told that my online statements about religion and Islam were illegal. I was told that society didn’t accept such criticisms.
The first thing he discovered is that regardless of what our friends in the media and the public claims of the Palestinian state freedom of speech in Palestinian controlled areas means freedom to say thing that don’t upset or offend Palestinians
I was beaten by prison guards who demanded to know who had made me write against Islam. In their minds, I could only say these things as the result of some plot, some conspiracy. The idea that I might simply want to express my independent thoughts was alien to them.
The second thing he discovered is that if you are doing something to upset Palestinians it’s obvious a western plot, or a Jewish plot, or a Western Jewish plot or perhaps a plot by infidel crusaders aided and abetted by Jews and the west.
The 10 months I spent in Palestinian prison were the worse of my life. I faced constant pressure to retract my statements. I was told they had removed my blog and that I must apologize for publishing it. Even once I was freed, I was told I should never again use the Internet, nor meet with the media.
The third thing he learned is the difference between being in a Palestinian in a Palestinian prison & a Palestinian. If only he had been arrested for throwing stones at Jews, he would have been a hero.
I eventually left the West Bank for Jordan with a visa I obtained from the French embassy. I am now in Paris, and have applied for asylum. After six months, I am still waiting for an answer, and it has become harder and harder as time goes on.
From here I have the chance to blog in Arabic and in English as “Proud Atheist,” but I am now effectively in exile. I am living alone in a foreign city, cut off from friends and family, all because of my words.
The fourth thing he learned is that for all the critique of the west by Palestinian media, if he wants to be able to freely say ^ write what he thinks, the west is the place to be.
I still do not feel safe. If I cannot stay here, and if I am not protected, then there’s a chance the Palestinian Authority will arrest me again. That is my fear. I want to be active, but safety is my priority.
I’d normally advise him to come to America, after all as an atheist he would have a lot of support but I have a feeling that groups like CAIR might consider his critiques of Islam “hate speech” which could get him Molly Norrised and frankly as a person who has actually been persecuted for his non-religious beliefs I suspect he would not fit in well with American atheists who have a case of the vapors whenever a nativity scene goes up at Christmas.
As a fellow blogger I am outraged by this story, as an American I think he would be an excellent candidate for asylum here, and as a Catholic I’ll pray for him and ask my fellow Catholics to do the same as he learns one final lesson
The international community should do more to protect the plight of these people. There are many of us who need to talk and be reached out to, even if we use fake Facebook accounts for our safety. We must express our thoughts and ourselves. We simply must be allowed this basic freedom.
If he wants the international community to back him, he had better get himself persecuted by Jews or Christians, not by Muslims and certainly not Palestinians.
Let me end by giving credit to the Daily Beast, not at all a conservative website for reporting on this story.
Update: Corrected the second to last sentence that somehow came out different that what I was trying to type.
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