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IBB Update: The Fight for Free Speech
IBB enters the Battle of Ideas while censorship around the world grows. Meanwhile, our Innovators are more determined than ever to succeed and speak!
Welcome Back to the IBB Update!
Diving into the heart of discourse and defense of freedom, we're gearing up for the Battle of Ideas Festival in London. There, Faisal and Melissa are poised to spotlight IBB's tenacious drive to counteract misinformation and champion free speech, with a special focus on our groundbreaking endeavors in the Middle East.
Venturing eastward, we have been alarmed by the Chinese government moving against Mongolian culture, with sweeping bans on both language and literature, sending out stark signals of cultural homogenization. Concurrently, we’re shining a light on Canada’s Peel District School Board and its unsettling strategy for book reduction, a move that echoes tactics often seen in authoritarian regimes. Both of these bans on different sides of the globe highlight the need for our End Banned Books program more than ever!
Meanwhile, our Innovation Hub has been busy! Insan Magazine shines from Afghanistan, exemplifying hope and intellectual freedom amidst challenging media landscapes. Further south, Zahraa Raad Abathar’s initiative, Red Line, emerges as a vital instrument in Iraq, shaping young minds with crucial lessons on boundaries and physical safety. Rounding off our update from the heart of Baghdad’s arts scene, Malak Alsheikh’s Moka Store stands testament to Iraq's resurgent creative pulse, where tradition meets entrepreneurial verve.
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IBB joins the Battle of Ideas!
Next week, join Faisal and Melissa at the Battle of Ideas Festival in London as they delve deep into IBB's pioneering work on preserving free speech and countering mistrust and misinformation. Faisal is set to enlighten audiences during a panel discussion titled "The Politics of Hate," addressing the challenges of confronting hate speech while championing open discourse. Additionally, both will feature on Andrew Doyle’s "Free Speech Nation" on GB News, where they'll share insights on IBB’s initiatives in the Middle East and lessons from the MENA region about preserving free speech in the West.
For attendees, IBB will proudly showcase a booth alongside other free speech advocates. If you're local or visiting the UK, we'd love to see you there. Drop by and engage with us!
Discounted tickets for IBB supporters can be found here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/647078107037/?discount=IBB-BOIF23
End Banned Books
China Bans Mongolian Culture
On September 1st, in China's Inner Mongolia region, the teaching of the Mongolian language in schools came under a restrictive ban. Alongside this, Mansang Taichuud's respected history book, "A General History of the Mongols," has been prohibited. These measures are indicative of the Chinese Communist Party's broader attempts to suppress and homogenize Mongolian culture. Disturbingly, actions such as the removal and destruction of Mongolian-language books can be seen. The policy, championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aspires to blend China's diverse ethnic groups into a singular national mold. Such oppressive measures aren't exclusive to the Mongols—similar patterns of suppression are observable in the treatment of other ethnic groups, like the Uyghurs.
The banning of books is a dire step backward, in this case stifling both Mongolian culture and community. We must collectively rally against such prohibitions and work toward a world where knowledge knows no bounds.
Canada Empties School Libraries
The Peel District School Board in Canada has recently come under fire for the substantial reduction of books in its school libraries. Concerns are mounting that literature published before 2008, encompassing many time-honored classics, was particularly targeted. A group called Libraries Not Landfills has provided documents suggesting this drastic move was a reaction to a 2020 directive aimed at countering systemic discrimination. Although the "MUSTIE" guidelines from Canadian School Libraries were purportedly employed to assess the suitability of these books, the vagueness of the criteria has led to growing unease. The decision to destroy many discarded books for not being "inclusive" or "relevant" draws unsettling parallels with practices seen in oppressive regimes. It is imperative, now more than ever, to emphasize the importance of preserving literature in all its forms, recognizing that banned books are often those that hold the power to challenge, enlighten, and inspire.
Established in 2013 during a time of media liberty in Afghanistan, Insan Magazine has been a beacon for progressive thought and intellectual expression, championing the ethos, 'Humanity Above All.' Their unwavering dedication to intellectual freedom recently earned them one of our Innovation Hub grants, priming them for a special edition centered on the theme of language. However, the media landscape in Afghanistan has darkened with the recent resurgence of the Taliban, and countless journalists now grapple with threats and intimidation. Undeterred by these formidable challenges, Insan Magazine remains steadfast in its mission, operating from beyond Afghanistan's borders to provide a much-needed counter-narrative to the Taliban's official discourse.
In Iraq, educator Zahraa Raad Abathar recognized a glaring silence around the topic of child harassment within Arab societies. In response, she established Red Line, a pioneering awareness initiative dedicated to educating children aged 3 to eight about the significance of boundaries and safe physical interactions. While her efforts initially met with resistance, particularly from public schools, the tide is turning—more parents are now actively seeking out her program for private sessions. Committed to bolstering this crucial mission, Ideas Beyond Borders has collaborated with Abathar, crafting 100 kit boxes designed for remote workshops, underscoring the essential nature of such early education and our drive to get important information to everyone, no matter where they live.
Born and raised in Baghdad, Malak Alsheikh once viewed art as a simple pastime. Today, however, she envisions it as her lifelong profession. While Baghdad initially posed challenges for those eager to embrace creativity, the city's recent cultural evolution has fostered a nurturing environment for emerging artists and entrepreneurial spirits. As the proud founder of Moka Store, Alsheikh, bolstered by one of our grants, is poised to grow her venture—investing in advanced equipment and embarking on a dynamic marketing campaign. This grant exemplifies the Innovation Hub's dedication to energizing Iraq's youth, inspiring them to pioneer bold ventures and pave the way for future generations!
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