Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

“…Assert ‘the Freedom to Read Any Book.’”


There’s certainly reason to “watch your back” these days… Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline

And, it’s always wise to maintain a certain amount of caution and not walk into dark alleys in “bad” neighborhoods…

Since I live in a relatively peaceful city in the U.S., I can say these things; but, I’m also acutely aware that there are millions of folk who must, to stay alive, use ultra-extreme caution every second of their lives; and, there are some for whom even that amount of caution won’t protect them at all

But, is it necessary to detain and question a British Muslim newlywed—a psychotherapist from Leeds—on her return from her honeymoon in Turkey because she was seen reading Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline?

Here’s a bit of the blurb for that book:

“The art and writing featured in this book, including literature, poems and songs as well as cartoons, political posters and photographs, document and interpret the momentous changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically in Syria.”

Sound like a terrorist manual?

Publishing Perspectives has an article entitled, English PEN Denounces Detention of ‘Syria Speaks’ Reader.

Here are a few excerpts:

“…Syria Speaks is ‘a book filled chock-a-block with treasures: short stories by Samar Yazbeck and Khaled Khalifa, powerful and terrifying illustrations and digital prints by Khalil Younes and Sulafa Hijazi, posters from the anonymous Syrian artists’ collective, a letter from the jailed director of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression, Mazen Darwish, and many other informative articles, fascinating artwork and writing.’”

Apparently not a terrorist manual…

The woman who scared the flight attendant by reading a book is named Faizah Shaheen and she’s quoted in the article as saying:

“Ironically, a part of my job role is working on anti-radicalisation and assessing vulnerable young people with mental health problems [who] are at risk of being radicalized. I said that to the police. I’m actually part of trying to fight radicalisation and breaking the stereotypes.”

Yes, the flight attendant was overly cautious; but, UK law actually states:

“…authorities can ‘stop, question and detain’ people ‘whether or not [an officer] has grounds for suspecting’ that person of wrongdoing.'”

Yes, the police are super cautious; and, due to insufficient support for people like the woman they detained, they’re incapable of more modulated behavior

The Director of English PEN says this:

“Thomson Airways should be highly embarrassed about this gross act of misjudgment. The current culture of anxiety around extremism now means that even our reading material has become grounds for suspicion of terrorist activity. The freedom to read any book, no matter the subject, is a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty. No one should ever be detained or questioned by the police on the basis of the literature they’re reading.

Do you feel, even with all the highly charged and dangerous environments in our world, that the statement, “The freedom to read any book, no matter the subject, is a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty. No one should ever be detained or questioned by the police on the basis of the literature they’re reading.“, is True?

Do go read the full article for more insights into this issue…

And, in closing, I can only pray that, in this wild world we inhabit, more folks will think hard about what does need to be done to keep people safe and what should never be done………
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For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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