The perils of speaking out against Islamic law in Malaysia

  • 29 March 2015
A satirical video poking fun at an Islamic party went viral in Malaysia - but the journalist who made it is facing threats and a police investigation
A video poking fun at an Islamic party went viral in Malaysia - but the journalist who made it is facing threats and a police investigation

A satirical video has exposed the sensitivity over Islamic law in Malaysia - as well as the limits of online speech in the country.

It was supposed to be a light-hearted poke at proposals to expand Islamic law in one state in Malaysia. But a video starring journalist Aisyah Tajuddin resulted in death and rape threats along with a police investigation.

It all began when the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (known by its Malay acronym PAS) proposed implementing hudud laws on Muslims in Kelantan, a mostly rural state in the northeast of the country.

Hudud laws cover prohibitions against things such as adultery, apostasy, robbery and theft, and prescribe punishments considered cruel or unusual in most Western countries: public beatings, stoning, amputation and public execution. They're also relatively uncommon in most Muslim nations with the exception of those such as Saudi Arabia or Iran which follow the most strict interpretations of Islamic sharia law.

Aisyah, a journalist with independent radio station BFM, mocked the party in a video titled "Hudud: A Rice Bowl Issue". As she crosses an imaginary border into Kelantan, a headscarf appears on her head. Finding a rock instead of rice in a packet of food, she tosses it away and shrugs, saying "Oh well, we have hudud, don't we?" and giving an ironic thumbs up. Her point? That instead of Islamic law, the PAS should be more concerned with issues such as the economy and reconstruction after severe floods in the region.

In the video, Aisyah "crosses the border" into Kelantan and finds herself involuntarily donning a headscarf
In the video, Aisyah "crosses the border" into Kelantan and finds herself involuntarily donning a headscarf

Read full article The perils of speaking out against Islamic law in Malaysia

Who is behind the 'perfect boyfriend'?

  • 28 March 2015
Iphone in hands with heat picture
How far would you be willing to go to avoid those awkward questions?

Pesky colleagues always asking about your love life? Nosy parents want to know how they'll become grandparents if you're not on the dating scene?

Or are your loved-up friends determined to set you up because you can't possibly be happy and single?

Read full article Who is behind the 'perfect boyfriend'?

Election 2015: Who won the interview contest on social media?

  • 27 March 2015
David Cameron and Ed Miliband

The first big set piece of the general election campaign generated tens of thousands of tweets under just one hashtag - but what do the numbers mean?

#BattleForNumber10 shot to the top of Twitter's list of UK and worldwide trends just as Thursday's duelling interview session began, and by the time the broadcast ended more than 260,000 points, zingers, hastily Photoshopped memes and wry observations had been posted - with similarly big numbers under related hashtags.

Read full article Election 2015: Who won the interview contest on social media?

Thousands defend Top Gear producer punched by Clarkson

  • 26 March 2015

After a few Twitter users threw abuse at the producer punched by Jeremy Clarkson, thousands wrote in support of Oisin Tymon.

It was a shocking story picked up by media all over the world - after the decision to sack Jeremy Clarkson as the presenter of Top Gear, the producer on the wrong end of Clarkson's fist got more abuse directed at him by strangers on Twitter.

Read full article Thousands defend Top Gear producer punched by Clarkson

The viral speech against school grading

  • 26 March 2015
YouTube screenschot from a school graduation speech which went viral in the Philippines
This student's graduation speech has been viewed more than two million times on YouTube

An off-script graduation speech by a Filipina student has become a YouTube hit - and it's opened up a can of worms about grading and competition in schools.

Krisel Mallari, a student at the Sto Niño Parochial School in Quezon City, was speaking at a graduation ceremony as the school's salutatorian - the second-ranked student of the year. However, instead of sticking to the "welcome speech" approved by school authorities, she went on a rant about the school's marking policy and insinuated that she had been cheated out of the top spot.

Read full article The viral speech against school grading

Is social media fuelling a Mexican Spring?

  • 26 March 2015
Reward poster in Iguala
A reward poster has been posted in Iguala

If you live far from Mexico and you've heard of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa teachers training college, the chances are that a highly tactical online awareness campaign, involving thousands of Mexicans angry with their government, has had something to do with it.

The students were left-wingers, on their way to a protest.

Read full article Is social media fuelling a Mexican Spring?

The cryptic tweets of an Indian minister

  • 25 March 2015
Indian minister of state for external affairs Gen VK Singh
Tweets by Indian minister General VK Singh were the subject of scrutiny earlier this week

An Indian government minister's cryptic tweets about "duty" and "disgust" have kicked off a huge debate.

It's a party he apparently wasn't very happy to be at. General VK Singh, India's minister of state for external affairs and former army chief, attended an event in Delhi in honour of Pakistan's National Day, and hosted by the Pakistani High Commissioner. But General Singh hinted at his true feelings on Twitter: "#DUTY A task or action that a person is bound to perform for moral or legal reasons," he said in one tweet posted after he left the event on Monday night.

Read full article The cryptic tweets of an Indian minister

Vietnamese push back on Facebook to save Hanoi's trees

  • 24 March 2015
pictures of trees felled
A Facebook campaign has succeeded in stopping Hanoi's trees from being chopped down.

Vietnamese are often wary of talking about politics for fear of running afoul of their communist government - but the garden gloves came off in a fight over Hanoi's beloved trees.

It's sometimes called the "Paris of Asia" on account of its wide boulevards and well-preserved French-influenced architecture. Hanoians are justifiably proud of their city's beauty - which is part of the reason why a government plan to axe hundreds of the city's trees resulted in a huge push back on Facebook.

model on bike
Facebook users including model Ha Anh Vu posted pictures of themselves enjoying Hanoi's parks and trees.

Read full article Vietnamese push back on Facebook to save Hanoi's trees

Southern US strawberry festival sparks a race row

  • 24 March 2015
Picture of the poster, its artist and two Strawberry Festival organisers
Kalle Siekkinen (centre) won a competition to create this year's poster

A poster for a Louisiana strawberry festival showing two faceless black children has prompted sharply split online opinion over whether it is offensive and racist.

The Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the small city near Lake Pontchartrain every April, and according to organisers is second in popularity in the state only to Mardi Gras itself.

Read full article Southern US strawberry festival sparks a race row

The comedians who invade your personal space

  • 24 March 2015

What would you do if somebody in the street came to you and touched your beard, took off your hat or even handcuffed you? How would you react?

More to the point, how would you react when you found out they were videoing the whole encounter, to post for other people to laugh at?

Read full article The comedians who invade your personal space