Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Palestinian democracy

A reporter tagged in a Facebook image that mocked the Palestinian president said Saturday he faces trial for insulting a public figure, raising concerns about freedom of speech in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

Mamdouh Hamamreh, who works for the pro-Hamas Al-Quds TV, said security forces detained him in September, just hours after the image appeared on his Facebook feed. The picture showed President Mahmoud Abbas — a Hamas rival — standing next to an actor who plays a villain on a popular Syrian soap opera, the reporter said.

Hamamreh said he was held for more than 50 days in a Palestinian lockup after the picture appeared on his feed. He said he had nothing to do with the image. He was released in November and says a hearing has been set for next month.

"I censor myself now," Hamamreh said. "I'm careful of what I say."

Don't be fooled - - the Palestinian state which eventually emerges from negotiations will be neither free nor democratic nor prosperous. After a few years, there will be nostalgia for the Israeli occupation.

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