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RIZ KHAN
America vs free speech
The US is considering a law to punish Arab broadcasters accused of "anti-Americanism".
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2010 12:47 GMT

Watch part two

Washington always claims that one of its top foreign policy initiatives is to spread democracy and freedoms around the world.

But a recent bill in the US Congress has many wondering if the US wants to become one of the world's biggest censors of media freedoms.

In early December the US House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming majority to pass a bill punishing Arab TV stations that engage in "anti-American incitement to violence".

In a Congress that cannot seem to agree on anything - whether fixing the country's broken healthcare system, or how to deal with the turbulent economic situation the bill passed with 395 yes votes, and only three dissenters.

The wording of the bill is vague, but punishment for Arab TV stations which criticise US policy or air statements by people who threaten the US with violence would be stiff.

One of the recommendations is to designate the satellite providers of those TV stations as "specially designated global terrorists," (SDGTs) and impose tough sanctions on them.

The bill - known as House Resolution 2278 - has to pass many stages before it becomes law, but it has shocked many for contradicting American support for free speech.

What are the implications of such a law for the concept of free speech?

On Monday, Riz speaks with Lawrence Pintak, an American journalist who has covered the Islamic world for three decades and is currently the dean of the College of Communication at Washington State University, and Khairi Abaza, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who studies Arab media and politics.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Monday, March 1, 2010. Watch Riz Khan live at 2030GMT, with repeats the next day at 0030GMT, 0530GMT and 1130GMT.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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