Saturday, February 15, 2014

Further comments on the article censored by Meydan TV

From my previous blog post, you may already know about the article censored by Meydan TV. The article penned by Arturo Desimone was first published and then removed by Meydan TV, citing objections from Murad Gassanly, a UK-based Azeri exile and politician

I have already put extensive comments, the article itself and the statement by Meydan TV here, but I also want to make some additional comments on the issue.

Meydan TV stated that “Murad Gassanly claimed that he never said or wrote thoughts that were given in that article as his words/thoughts and asked us to remove that article unless we want to face legal action in the court.” Meydan TV also claimed that “references made to Murad Gassanly in that article could not be backed by any quotes, articles, links”. Meydan TV has contacted “Nijat Garayev who sent Arturos Desimone's article” for any proofs, but Nijat Garayev allegedly couldn’t find any. Therefore, Meydan TV decided not to run the article.

I have also contacted the author – Arturo Desimone and communicated with him on his article and asked about references to Murad Gassanly that Arturo based his opinion on. Arturo kindly directed me to a piece, authored by Murad Gassanly and published on the Radio Liberty website (Russian section of the Azerbaijani service). 

Because the article was in Russian, I have translated it into English and I post it below. The translation is not beautiful because I have tried to follow Murad Gassanly exactly word by word, structure by structure, sentence by sentence.


Disputes around suicide of a gay leader

Murad Gassanly

I am not going to comment on the fact of suicide of a very young – 20-year old chairman of “Free LGBT” organization in Baku, Isa Shahmarly. This is a terrible tragedy for his family and his friends. But while observing reaction of the public, I wanted to note that taking the whole society responsible for this suicide by some users of social networks and bloggers seemed absurd to me.

Azerbaijan is a fairly tolerant country toward sexual minorities and not only in comparison with other Muslim countries, but even in comparison with many European ones. Just try to be gay in Hungary, for example…

I am against all forms of discrimination and public and state interference into private lives. But at the same time, I understand the concern of many friends of mine who don’t like the aggressive propaganda of sexual minorities and alternative lifestyles. There must be a balance between the human right to private life on one hand, and public and collective values, culture and traditional family form on the other hand.

Finding this balance is a long political road. For example, when I arrived in England 20 years ago, teachers were forbidden to mention homosexualism at schools – even in the sex education classes – this was the demand of the law. Now, gays have the right to marry. The society has changed, thus changed the laws. But debates carry on – more than 6 million Britons have signed a petition against gay marriage last year. And the parties of the right get more and more support. The search for the balance continues.

What I didn’t like in these discussions around the death of this young man – on one hand – wild and full-of-violence homophobia of some conservatives, and on the other hand – wild and crossing-all-accepted-boundaries anti-Azerbaijanianism of some liberals.

It is clear with the former – they are Neanderthals.

But with the latter, I have more demands to them. I am shocked by snobbism and arrogance of “tolerant liberals”. I have read some articles in mass media and comments on the social networks and I have no doubts that these “white people” hate their own people, their culture and heritage. Theirs is not a call to healthy debates, reforms, modernization, etc. Theirs is a pure orientalism – the inferior attitude toward the Eastern culture, Islamophobia and even racism toward majority of their own people.

And also – in the country, where rights of every social class and elements of society are violated, there is no reason on concentrating on the rights of this or that particular group. This selective approach is just cynical! I was surprised to see how many friends of mine who have never raised their voice in support of political prisoners, opposition or displaced residents of Baku – they have become “[freedom] fighters” and wrapped themselves in rainbow flags.

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