Andrew Haydon on censorship in Iraq

Saturday 8th January 2011

Small mosque in Baghdad
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A suitably gloomy start to the year comes from the news that, as well as persecution in Belarus, theatre is now under pressure in Iraq, that liberated zone in the Middle East where freedom and democracy shine like beacons to warm the hearts of other benighted nations. As Andrew Haydon writes in the Guardian, the Education Minister of Iraq has completely banned the study of theatre in Baghdad’s Institute of Fine Arts, thus succeeding where many others have failed in thoroughly redefining what is meant by “education”. For these religious cretins, education means the coarsest form of uncritical and, in the case of narrow-minded Islam, utterly false instruction. By a wonderful contrast, this kind of sickening censorship is matched by a story nearer home where the trivial and the ridiculous are locked in a perfect embrace. The Glasgow Pavilion’s annual pantomime has been found to break the Geneva Convention because one of the actors wore a Red Cross emblem on their costume: it had to be removed. Here the imbecility is much less serious than in the case of Iraq, but the mindset that feels compelled to attack theatre for its so-called violations of sacrosanct symbols is surely equally abhorent.

© Aleks Sierz

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