On Censorship

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Hello again friends. Missed us last week? We weren’t able to publish on time. But we’re making up for it with a packed issue that actually has more Arabic than English pieces – which is a first for us. The reason is that we have a top-notch new Arabic editor, aphrodite, who is working hard to assign, edit, and write articles in Arabic. She puts me to shame with her on-the-spot working skills versus my procrastinating expertise.

As soon as news of Bekhsoos’s re-launch came out a couple of weeks ago, tweeters and bloggers from different Arab cities reported that the website, along with many gay-themed websites, was blocked. Jad Aoun blogs about the blockage of Bekhsoos in the UAE and shows us the fantastic graphic humorous that comes with the filtering (below).

sufr_safely_with_duAt around the same time, www.imhalal.com, an Islamic search engine especially designed to block out all “haram” (i.e. sinful) content was launched by a Dutch company. “Nipple” will get you a Haram level 1 out of 3, while “breast” gets you 2 out of 3.  When I first checked the site in August, “lesbian” would get you a 3 out of 3 Haram level (in red!) but now it’s been reduced to level 2. Fastest ijtihad I’ve ever seen.

Lebanon in particular has always had ridiculously low censorship laws online, but things have begun to change as the General Security acquires new surveillance technology and the police recently arrest owners of adult movie theaters in Burj Hammoud for “facilitating homosexual behavior.”

But we’re still publishing and we’re excited about our new issue! Our top recommendation this issue is a lengthy research piece in Arabic on homosexuality in Arab literary history contributed by our friend, Rima, at Aswat (Palestinian Gay Women). We received a very important letter (also in Arabic) from Kuwaiti transsexuals today that we published immediately. We’ve changed our categories around a little, so bear with us as we figure out how to make a magazine out of wordpress and how to keep the momentum going. You can help us by sending us submissions on .

Speaking of submissions, our favorite surprise after the launch of our first issue was the excitement of a fabulous Lebanese gay man to whom we’ve granted a weekly column: The Fantastic Homosexual. You don’t want to miss out on his first piece. No, seriously, you fucking don’t.


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