On Barack Obama’s first day as President of the United States, two countries underscored the state of freedom of speech and freedom of the media in the world.
China’a government censored President Obama’s inauguration speech and Iran halted activities at the week-old BBC Persian TV channel by saying its work was illegal.
It came as no surpirse to China watchers that the Communist government of the nation most interested in censoring the media and Internet, chopped sections out of President Barack Obama’s first speech as Commander in Chief before it was distributed by state media services.
China is in the midst of a general crackdown on free media and free press and the government has some fears that the current economic downturn and celebrations of pro-democracy events may cause unrest in China.
The Ahmadinejad government of Iran has become increasingly anti-Western and recently sided very vocally with Hamas in the battle with Israel.
China, Vietnam, Iran and many Islamic groups like the Taliban are increasingly anti-free media and free press.
CNN on Iran and the BBC:
President Obama’s comments addressed to world leaders who “blame their society’s ills on the West” also fell foul of the censor’s red pen.
“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history,” the president said.
Once again, Xinhua included the passage in full in its English version, but the sentence was taken out of the Chinese translation.
Of course, President Obama didn’t mention China. He spoke of “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” The Chinese government censors read that and didn’t think, “Whoa, Obama really slammed North Korea; or is he talking about Iran?” No.
They thought, “Hmm… corruption; deceit; silencing dissent; yeah, that’s us. Take that part out.”