Unregulated hate speech on the internet leads to violence, War in Yemen must end, but finding peace will be hard, Iran’s blasphemy law has become entrenched, US sanctions will create problems for Iran, After Merkel, German politics may lean conservative

A roundup of global commentary for the Nov. 19, 2018 weekly magazine.

Fareed Khan/AP
Supporters of Pakistani religious parties coalition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal Alliance rally against the acquittal of Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi, in Karachi, Pakistan, Nov. 8, 2018.

The Globe and Mail / Toronto

Unregulated hate speech on the internet leads to violence

“[L]ooming in the background of the Pittsburgh massacre, the letter bombs and the rising tide of reactionary, bigoted politics is the spectre of the internet,” writes Navneet Alang. “No sooner had the suspect of the Pittsburgh massacre been apprehended than his online anti-Semitic messages were discovered on [the social network] Gab.... Gab’s owner stated that the only antidote to bad speech was more speech. But such a view is profoundly naive in the 21st century. Free-speech absolutism prioritizes an abstract concept over the real effects on the world.... Those countries that already have hate-speech laws provide a model: Speech is still protected, unless it incites hate or violence against protected classes.”

The Irish Times / Dublin, Ireland

Humanitarian concerns demand an end to war in Yemen, but it will be difficult

“The Saudis say they have intervened in Yemen’s civil war since 2015 to restore its president Abed
Rabbo Mansour Hadi to power...,” states an editorial. “They say the rebels are acting on Iran’s behalf.... [Iran’s involvement] has convinced key Saudi allies like the United States and Britain to support the war.... The civil war arose from [Houthi] rebellion against government proposals to decentralise power in the country, depriving many areas of proper sharing in oil revenues.... Unless these longer-term issues are addressed it will not be possible to find a peace settlement. In the meantime a balanced ceasefire allowing humanitarian aid to relieve a huge famine threat is an urgent necessity for the international community.”

The Hindu / Chennai, India

Iran’s blasphemy law has become entrenched

“The Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgment acquitting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman on death row for blasphemy, was an opportunity for the government to start debating the need to reform the regressive blasphemy laws,” states an editorial. “Instead, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s administration has capitulated to pressure from extremists.... [T]he government will not oppose the filing of a review petition in the Supreme Court against Ms. Bibi’s acquittal.... By acquitting Ms. Bibi, the Supreme Court actually offered fresh energy to those who campaign against the controversial legislation.... But by capitulating to the extremists as it did subsequently, the government has not only done her a disservice, but further emboldened extremist sections in Pakistan.”

Arab News / Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

US sanctions will create big problems for Iran

“The second tranche of US sanctions on Iran have now taken effect...,” writes Mohammed Alsulami. “Calls for the ousting of the rulers, which nobody would have dared express a few years ago, are now common.... The Iranian regime is awaiting the results of the 2020 US elections to discover whether the current administration will be re-elected or a new one will come to power. This is a high-stakes gamble, which will place the rulers in a more complicated situation should [President] Trump win a second term or if a new administration adopting the same current hard-line policy comes to power. This is apart from the possibility of a rise in domestic pressure on the regime due to worsening living conditions.”

Al Jazeera / Doha, Qatar

After Merkel, German politics may become more conservative

“On October 29, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she was stepping down as leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) after 18 years in that post...,” writes Madhvi Ramani. “Throughout her 13 years in power, Merkel managed to build a name for herself.... The upcoming election for a new party leader during the CDU convention in December is a chance for those in the conservative wing of the party to get their revenge after many years of being sidelined by Merkel. [Friedrich] Merz ... is currently the frontrunner. He seems to represent the hope of the conservative male-dominated party base to reclaim the CDU and turn its course back to conservative politics.”

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