Saturday, November 10, 2007


FIX THE FXI is calling upon Na'eem Jeenah (director of the Freedom of Expression Institute) to demand the immediate release of Delaram Ali in Iran.

Na'eem Jeenah is particularly interested in "Islamic Feminism' and has produced a MA political science thesis on the subject so he should, of course, be demanding the release of a 24 yrs old Iranian woman who is fighting for women's rights.

Delaram Ali has been sentenced in Iran to a 2yrs 6mths prison sentence and a flogging for campaigning for women's rights.

In the circumstances Na'eem Jeenah and Jane Duncan of The Freedom of Expression Institute should immediately ask deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad to contact the Iranian ambassador with regard the imprisonment and flogging of Delaram Ali.

Na'eem Jeenah is also interested in Islamic jurisprudence and he should immediately consider whether a "flogging" is an appropriate punishment.

If both Jane Duncan and Na'eem Jeenah remain silent, it will be further evidence that the organization that they represent should be renmamed The Freedom of Censorship Institute.


FIX THE FXI alerts Jane Duncan of The Freedom of Expression Institute to the case of Delaram Ali.
FIX THE FXI hopes that The FXI, together with Prof Adam Habib, joins Amnesty International and other human rights groups in condemning the Iranian regime.
Of course, it is possible that Jane Duncan will remain silent as freedom of expression for Muslim women in Muslim countries is not usually on her anti-western agenda!

Iran 'must free' woman activist

Many Iranian women say their rights have been stamped on
Seven human rights groups including Amnesty International have urged Iran to set aside a prison sentence for women's rights activist Delaram Ali.
She has been ordered to begin her sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison and a flogging on Saturday.

Ms Ali, 24, joined a protest last year calling for greater legal rights for Iranian women.

Dozens of journalists and activists have been detained or jailed recently, accused of acting against the state.

Police broke up the demonstration Ms Ali was part of last year which called for greater rights for women in Iran's Islamic legal system.

Ms Ali says the security forces broke her left hand when they beat up the demonstrators.

Chilling warning

Delaram Ali has been free while awaiting the result of an appeal.

But she has now been told to give herself up by Saturday so the sentence can be implemented.

She says she has not been allowed to file a complaint against the police.

Instead an internal inquiry recently exonerated the police even though foreign journalists witnessed them beating the women who were singing feminist songs while sitting peacefully on the grass in a public square.

What is notable about Delaram Ali is that she is not a well-known leader of Iran's feminist movement who has repeatedly challenged the government.

The BBC's Frances Harrison says her punishment will be a chilling warning to anyone thinking of dabbling with politics.

It comes as the Iranian Writers Association has talked of the increasing suppression of the press - with writers, journalists, academics, labour and social activists being arrested and newspapers closed down one after another.

One of Iran's most outspoken human rights activists, Emadeddin Baghi, was arrested last month and there has been no news of him since.

He was a man who tirelessly campaigned for the rights of political prisoners - only to become one himself, our correspondent says.

Courts have also recently upheld jail sentences for the leaders of Iran's bus drivers' union and teachers' organisations after protests over low pay.

Friday, November 9, 2007


The Freedom of Expression Institute must be aware that Pretoria and Washington are heading for a major fall-out when The American Civil Liberties Union case on behalf of Prof Adam Habib reaches court.

Prof Habib is certainly not an ivory tower academic. It seems that he has been highly influential in moulding South African foreign policy and as a result the ACLU case has important diplomatic ramifications. The ACLU have, after all, named Condoleeza Rica as a defendant. This is not Mickey Mouse stuff.

South Africa has recently been jumping into bed with Iran and Hamas and it is unlikely that Ms Rice applauds such wayward proclivities.

FIX THE FXI believes that South Africa will ultimately pay an extremely heavy price for taking on the US govt by ACLU proxy.
Perhaps the South African anti-US lobby, of which The FXI is a vocal part, will find that taking pot-shots at Ms Rice might be fun, but comes at a high diplomatic price. A price that South Africa can ill-afford to pay ?

ACLU Sues Over Exclusion of South African Democracy Scholar from U.S. (9/25/2007)

Ideological Exclusion Violates First Amendment Rights, ACLU Says

BOSTON – The Departments of State and Homeland Security are illegally blocking South African scholar Adam Habib from entering the U.S. under circumstances that suggest it is because of his political views, according to a lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Massachusetts. Censorship at the border prevents U.S. citizens and residents from hearing speech that is protected by the First Amendment, the ACLU charges.

“Once again, the Bush administration is stifling debate by preventing U.S. audiences from engaging prominent scholars face-to-face,” said Melissa Goodman, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s National Security Project. “When the government excludes scholars from the U.S. – particularly scholars who frequently traveled to this country without any problems in the past, but who happen to be vocal critics of U.S. policies – it sends the cowardly message that our government is afraid of opposing voices. This kind of political litmus test is both unconstitutional and un-American.”

The ACLU’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on behalf of organizations that have invited Professor Habib to speak in the U.S. in the near future, including the American Sociological Association (ASA), the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights (BCPR). The lawsuit, which names Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff as defendants, seeks the immediate processing of Professor Habib’s pending visa application and a declaration that his exclusion without explanation since October 2006 Habib violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. organizations, citizens, and residents.

Habib is a renowned scholar, sought after analyst, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. He is also a Muslim who has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and certain U.S. terrorism-related policies. Until the government suddenly revoked his visa last October without explanation, he never experienced any trouble entering the U.S.; in fact, Habib lived in New York for years while earning a Ph.D. in Political Science from the City University of New York.

The October 2006 revocation of Professor Habib’s visa prevented him from attending a series of meetings with representatives from institutions such as the National Institutes for Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Bank, Columbia University and the Gates Foundation. When he landed in New York in advance of these meetings, Habib was detained for 7 hours and interrogated about his associations and political views. Armed guards eventually escorted him to a plane and deported him back to South Africa. The State Department later revoked the visas of Professor Habib’s wife and two small children, again, without explanation.

“I find it profoundly disturbing that the U.S. government continues to deny me the opportunity to participate in the kind of robust academic and political debate that is central to the American democratic system,” said Habib. “Now more than ever, people from around the world recognize the consequences of American isolation within the global community. By letting in outsiders who represent ideological diversity, the U.S. can make good on its democratic ideals.”

Last May, Habib applied for a new visa that would allow him to travel to the U.S. to attend speaking engagements, including the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in August 2007. However, on the eve of his scheduled departure to New York, the State Department informed Habib that his visa application would not be processed in time for the meeting. As a result of the State Department’s unexplained visa denial, Habib was prevented from speaking to the ASA and its members. His visa application continues to languish.

Professor Habib’s exclusion is part of a larger pattern. Over the past few years, numerous foreign scholars, human rights activists, and writers – all vocal critics of U.S. policy – have been barred from the U.S. without explanation or on unspecified national security grounds.

“Immigration officials should not be in the business of blocking our borders to people with political views they dislike,” said Sarah Wunsch, staff attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Silencing critics and forbidding Americans the right to hear dissenting voices harms academic and political freedom in the United States.”

In 2006, the ACLU filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of U.S. academic groups and Professor Tariq Ramadan, a widely respected Swiss scholar of the Muslim world. When the government revoked his visa in 2004, Professor Ramadan was prevented from assuming a tenured teaching position at the University of Notre Dame. The Ramadan lawsuit challenges the legality of his exclusion and the constitutionality of the Patriot Act provision under which he was initially excluded. He remains excluded from the U.S. today.

Today, the ACLU launched a new interactive web feature that tells the stories of the artists, scholars and politicians the U.S. government has kept out of the country since the inception of ideological exclusion in 1952. It is available at:

A copy of today’s complaint is available at:

More information about ideological exclusion is available at:

Attorneys in the case are Goodman, Jameel Jaffer, Nasrina Bargzie, and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU, and Wunsch and John Reinstein of the ACLU of Massachusetts.


The Freedom of Expression Institute may find that South Africa pays a heavy price when encouraging a diplomatic fall-out with The United States...

I wonder whether the US will support South Africa in its goal to get a permanent seat on The United Nations security council.
Interesting to also consider whether Prof Adam Habib might have helped to influence South Africa's appalling voting record at The United Nations.

On Jan 26th 2007, Prof Habib wrote the following in The M&G:
"Our role in the Security Council, temporary though it may be, is not to mindlessly follow the dictates of great powers, but to engage them and provide an example of responsible international leadership."

"An example of responsible international leadership"??? Is that Prof Habib's euphemism for South Africa's dismal voting record at The UN ? ( Remember South Africa used its inaugural vote at the United Nations (UN) Security Council earlier in January to vote against a resolution demanding an end to human rights abuses in Myanmar.)

If Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad takes up Adam Habib's case with Condoleeza Rice, South Africa will probably only alienate the US even further and might well negate her dream of a permanent seat on The UN security council.

The US has given detailed consideration regarding Prof Habib's recent attempts to gain entry to the US. As a result, the refusal to admit him does seem to suggest that the US might be indicating that it is extremely unhappy about the direction of South African foreign policy. It is quite clear that Prof Habib's inability to enter the US is more than an administrative mistake. The following excerpts from the case being brought on his behalf makes it quite clear that Prof Habib's visa application was considered at the highest levels:


Oct 21st 2006
Upon arrival at JFK airport, neither Professor Habib’s wife nor any member of the HSRC delegation encountered a problem entering the country. Professor Habib, however, was detained for more than seven hours, questioned by U.S. Customs.
During his detention, Professor Habib was questioned about his political views and was asked whether he belonged to or had supported any terrorist organizations. 32. Eventually, border officials told Professor Habib that his visa had been revoked by the Department of State, specifically by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Affairs Tony Edson, and that he could either withdraw his application for admission or be deported to South Africa. Professor Habib chose to withdraw his application. He was escorted by armed guards to a return flight to Johannesburg. He arrived back in South Africa approximately 40 hours after he had left for the U.S.

On August 1, 2007, plaintiffs’ counsel wrote to Mr. Jones, asking whether he would be willing to pass along another inquiry to the State Department and expressing hope that “this problem will be resolved and that the State Department will act on Professor Habib’s visa before the New York conference date.” Mr. Jones agreed to convey the message and inquiry to the State Department.
On August 3, 2007, Mr. Jones’ colleague, Assistant United States Attorney Kristin Vassallo, called plaintiffs’ counsel and reported that the State Department was aware of Professor Habib’s August conference date and travel plans and that the Department was still processing the visa application.
47. On August 7, 2007, 48 hours before Professor Habib was scheduled to depart to New York, consular officials informed Professor Habib that officials in Washington were still processing his visa application and that it would not be adjudicated before his scheduled departure to the U.S. That next day, Professor Habib informed the ASA that he would be unable to speak at his scheduled panel on August 11, 2007. Professor Habib, who was in Italy at the time, flew back to Johannesburg, instead of to New York, as he had planned.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Dear Jane Duncan,

I might need the assistance of The Freedom of Expression Institute...

I am applying for an Iranian visa having been invited to speak by the revolutionary guard at Tehran University on the reasons why Ahmadinejad's nuclear policy should be reversed. I am also hoping to lecture various Ayatollahs in Ishfahan and Qom.

Like you, I do not believe all the nonsense about political dissidents, or anyone else, being thrown into jail and tortured in Iran.

If for any reason I am refused a visa to Iran, will The FXI take up my case, as you have just done for Prof Adam Habib re the US, with deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad ?

viva etc
blacklisted etc


The Freedom of Expression Institute is calling upon Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad to intervene on Prof Adam Habib's behalf regarding the refusal to give him a US entry visa. Although it appears to be based on the notion that Habib might be involved in terrorist activities, The FXI believes that the real reason is that Habib is a leading Muslim South African critic of US foreign policy.

However, it seems strange to exclude Prof Adam Habib on either basis when President Ahmadinejad was recently given entry and a platform to speak at Colombia University.

Perhaps the real reason is more complicated. Prof Adam Habib has been influential in moulding South Africa's foreign policy and this might be why The US has decided to exclude him from their shores. Following this logic, the US might, in fact, be informing South Africa that it does not, like most of the western world, approve of its close links to Iran and Hamas. After all, Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils has recently done his best to foster good relations with these regimes on visits both to Tehran and Gaza.

Pretoria has inevitably made enemies in Washington and, like it or not, Prof Adam Habib has paid the price. It might be that The US believes that Habib has indirectly used his position of prominence within South Africa to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, emanating from Iran and Hamas, and as a result should be excluded.

Of course it would be wrong to fall for The FXI's argument that this issue is really all about freedom of expression. The FXI is, once again, following a narrow political agenda; it recently backed Prof Habib as a nominee to The SABC's board and it is evident that The FXI implicitly supports Prof Habib's foreign policy ideas.

Would The FXI come to my aid if I ever had an opportunity to apply for an Iranian visa in order to attend public meetings in Tehran criticizing Ahmadinejad's foreign policy? Would The FXI take the matter up with Aziz Pahad? And if I ever actually gained access to such forums (non-existent!) in Iran, inevitably ending up in a Tehran Jail, would Jane Duncan and Na'eem Jeenah of The FXI fight at the highest levels for my release ?

FXI on US government's ideological exclusion of Adam Habib
Tuesday, 06 November 2007
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) is concerned about the reasons given by the United States (US) Department of State to University of Johannesburg Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, for his being denied entry into the US. Habib is a political scientist and prominent political commentator.

The reasons were sent to him by the US Consulate General in Johannesburg on October 26, 2007, following an application from Habib for a waiver of his ineligibility to enter the US.

In its letter to Habib, the US government upheld the ban on his entry into the US, citing a section of the US Immigration and Nationality Act which relates to terrorist activities.

The section states that any 'alien' who has engaged in a terrorist activity, or who the US believes to be a terrorist threat or who has signalled an intention to engage in terrorist activity, can be denied entry.

The section adds that anyone who is a representative of a foreign terrorist organisation, or an organisation that endorses terrorist views, or who has used his/ her position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, can also be excluded. The letter does not make it clear how Habib is supposed to have violated this section.

Habib was denied entry to the US last year, after having been invited to participate in a panel discussion on globalisation and South African social movements by the American Sociological Association (ASA).

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) also invited him to its 2008 Annual General Meeting, to discuss US travel bans on international scholars who are critical of US foreign policy.

The ban prevents Habib from honouring these speaking engagements. This in turn denies US citizens the right to hear him, which interferes with their US first amendment right to freedom of speech.

The FXI further believes that the banning of Habib is part of a pattern where the US government denies entry to prominent individuals who have criticised US foreign policy. This practice has been termed 'ideological exclusion', and amounts to censorship of views it does not agree with, in the process ensuring that critical debate amongst academics cannot take place.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has taken up Habib's case in the US, has argued that the above mentioned section of the Immigration Act is nominally aimed at those who 'espouse or endorse terrorist activity', but it is vaguely written and easily manipulated to exclude the US government's critics, who are branded terrorists simply by virtue of being critical.

In fact, according to the ACLU, the State Department's foreign affairs manual interprets the section to apply to foreign nationals who have voiced 'irresponsible expressions of opinion'. The practice of ideological exclusion is therefore a violation of freedom of expression and academic freedom.

Recently, Swiss academic Professor Tariq Ramadan was denied entry to the US under its ideological exclusion programme, which cited the same provision in the above mentioned Act.

It is also noteworthy that Habib is Muslim, and this combined with his critical stance on aspects of US foreign policy may well have contributed to his being 'profiled' as a potential terrorist.

A further concern in this case is that Habib’s wife and two children have also been banned from entering the US. Even if any legitimate reason did exist for the US to rule Habib’s entry into that country inadmissible, it is alarming that the US authorities then extend a ban onto his family as well, while they have been innocent of any wrong-doing.

The FXI calls on the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take the matter up with the US government, and to seek a review of the ban. If Habib has been banned on the basis of ideological exclusion, then the Ministry has a duty to protect the freedom of expression of its citizens, including in the international arena.

The FXI is also seeking a meeting with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad, to make representations to him in this regard. The FXI also supports the attempt by the ACLU to have the decision reviewed.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Dear Jane Duncan,

I note that The SABC has today carried a report stating the The Freedom of Expression Institue is worried about the prospective take-over of The Sunday Times by Mbeki's mates.

Do you think that The SABC would carry a similar report stating ... "SACK SNUKI. NO ANC AT THE SABC" ?

Viva etc
Blacklisted etc

FXI distressed by R7bn Johncom bid

November 05, 2007, 08:30
Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) executive director Jane Duncan says the proposed takeover of Johnnic Communication by Koni Media Holdings is very worrying. Johnnic Communication owns the Sunday Times, The Times, Sowetan and Daily Dispatch.

The bid has been tainted with criticism. The DA said the move is a "bold manoeuvre " to put the Sunday Times and Business Day in the hands of the President and would be detrimental to media freedom.

Duncan says some individuals at Koni are very closely connected to the Mbeki administration. She says the bid must be seen in the context of these newspapers reporting on government issues.

"For me this really can't be seen out of context of the government's unhappiness with the Sunday Times' reporting on the Health Minister. But also we should bear in mind that there are other (sides) to the issue here. For instance, Johncom owns the Daily Dispatch, and we know that government has been desperately unhappy with the Daily Dispatch's reporting on the Frere Hospital baby deaths incidents.