Index relies entirely on the support of donors and readers to do its work.
Help us keep amplifying censored voices today.
The Summer 2023 issue of Index looks at neurodiversity, the term coined in the late 1990s to identify and promote the positives of variation in human thinking which has become more widely used in the past few years. Are old stereotypes still rife? Has the perception of neurodiversity improved? If not, was this because of censorship? Using neurodivergent voices, we wanted to know about this in a global context.
The majority of the articles are written by neurodivergent people, as we wanted to put their voices front and centre. Many said they did have more of a voice, awareness had shot up and the word “neurodiversity” empowered and welcomed a growth in onscreen representation. However, at the same time it was clear that conversations around neurodiversity were playing out along society’s current fault-lines and were far from immune.
Mind matters, by Jemimah Seinfeld: The term neurodiversity has positively challenged how we approach our minds. Has it done enough?
The Index, by Mark Frary: The latest in free expression news, from an explainer on Sudan to a cha-cha-cha starring Meghan and King Charles.
Bars can't stop a bestseller, by Kaya Genç: Fiction is finding its way out of a Turkish prison, says former presidential hopeful and bestselling writer
Don't mention femicide, by Chris Havler-Barrett: Murdered women are an inconvenience for Mexico’s president.
This is no joke, by Qian Gong and Jian Xu: The treatment of China’s comedians is no laughing matter.
Silent Disco, by Andrew Mambondiyani: Politicians are purging playlists in Zimbabwe, and musicians are speaking out.
When the Russians came, by Alina Smutko, Taras Ibragimov and Aliona Savchuk: The view from inside occupied Crimea, through the cameras of photographers banned by the Kremlin.
The language of war and peace, by JP O’Malley: Kremlin-declared “Russophobe foreign agent and traitor” Mikhail Shishkin lays out the impossible choices for Russians.
Writer's block, by Stacey Tsui: Hong Kong’s journalists are making themselves heard, thanks to blockchain technology.
The Russians risking it all, by Katie Dancey-Downs: Forced to sing songs and labelled as extremists, anti-war Russians are finding creative ways to take a stand.
The 'truth' is in the tea, by Jemimah Steinfeld: Spilling the tea on a London venue, which found itself in hot water due to a far-right speaker.
Waiting for China's tap on the shoulder, by Chu Yang: However far they travel, there’s no safe haven for journalists and academics who criticise China.
When the old fox walks the tightrope, by Danson Kahyana: An interview with Stella Nyanzi on Uganda’s latest anti-LGBTQ+ law.
Would the media lie to you?, by Ali Latifi: Fake news is flourishing in Afghanistan, in ways people might not expect.
Britain's Holocaust island, by Martin Bright: Confronting Britain’s painful secret, and why we must acknowledge what happened on Nazi-occupied Alderney.
The thorn in Vietnam's civil society side, by Thiện Việt: Thiện Việt: Responding to mass suppression with well-organised disruption.
Not a slur, by Nick Ransom: What’s in a word? Exploring representation, and the power of the term “neurodiversity” to divide or unite.
Sit down, shut up, by Katharine P Beals: The speech of autistic non-speakers is being hijacked.
Fake it till you break it, by Morgan Barbour: Social media influencers are putting dissociative identity disorder in the spotlight, but some are accused of faking it.
Weaponising difference, by Simone Dias Marques: Ableist slurs in Brazil are equating neurodivergence with criminality.
Autism on screen is gonna be okay, by Katie Dancey-Downs: The Rain Man days are over. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay star Lillian Carrier digs into autism on screen.
Raising Malaysia's roof, by Francis Clarke: In a comedy club in Malaysia’s capital stand up is where people open up, says comedian Juliana Heng.
Living in the Shadows, by Ashley Gjøvik: When successful camouflage has a lasting impact.
Nigeria's crucible, by Ugonna-Ora Owoh: Between silence and lack of understanding, Nigeria’s neurodiverse are being mistreated.
My autism is not a lie, by Meltem Arikan: An autism diagnosis at 52 liberated a dissident playwright, but there’s no space for her truth in Turkey.
Lived experience, to a point, by Julian Baggini: When it comes to cultural debates, whose expertise carries the most weight?
France: On the road to illiberalism? by Jean-Paul Marthoz: Waving au revoir to the right to criticise.
Monitoring terrorists, gangs - and historians, by Andrew Lownie: The researcher topping the watchlist on his majesty’s secret service.
We are all dissidents, by Ruth Anderson: Calls to disassociate from certain dissidents due to their country of birth are toxic and must be challenged.
Manuscripts don't burn, by Rebecca Ruth Gould: Honouring the writers silenced by execution in Georgia, and unmuzzling their voices.
Obscenely familiar, by Marc Nash: A book arguing for legalised homosexuality is the spark for a fiction rooted in true events.
A truly graphic tale, by Taha Siddiqui and Zofeen T Ebrahim: A new graphic novel lays bare life on Pakistan’s kill list, finding atheism and a blasphemous tattoo.
A censored day? by Kaya Genç: Unravelling the questions that plague the censor, in a new short story from the Turkish author.
Poetry's peacebuilding tentacles, by Natasha Tripney: Literature has proven its powers of peace over the last decade in Kosovo.
Palestine: I still have hope, by Bassem Eid: Turning to Israel and Palestine, where an activist believes the international community is complicit in the conflict.
When the most distinguished former chair of Israel’s Supreme Court, the 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Aharon Barak, said that he would go before a “firing squad” if it would help prevent what he sees as an existential threat to his country’s democracy, it’s a safe bet he was talking about something momentous.
Barak’s January denunciation of the attempt by Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government to neuter the Court was just part of what has brought many tens of thousands of Israeli citizens out in unprecedented protests across the country. An impressive array of judicial, political, ex-military and intelligence leaders have warned that Netanyahu’s programme is leading Israel on a path akin to that of authoritarian governments like Hungary and Poland at best, and dictatorship and “fascism” at worst.
The coalition formed on 29 December is easily the most right wing in Israel’s history and includes in key Cabinet posts two religious and avowedly extreme and anti-Arab supremacists, Bezalal Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, both determined that Israel should annex the occupied West Bank. Their appointment adds a volatile new element to a conflict in which 14 Israelis and 70 Palestinians have been killed this year alone.
But it is the “reforms” to the Supreme Court drawn up by Netanyahu’s justice minister Yariv Levin which, opposed by an Israeli majority in opinion polls, have unleashed a wave of outrage on the streets. These include clauses heavily curbing judicial review, removing the criterion of “reasonableness” by which it can judge government decisions, for appointments of the Court to fall under the direct control of the government, and for judgements ruling that a government decision in unlawful or conflicts with semi-constitutional Basic Laws to be overruled by a simple majority in the Knesset (parliament).
The Court is hardly the “overmighty” bastion of liberalism depicted by its critics. Last year, for example, it approved the planned eviction of 1000 southern West Bank Palestinians from their homes purportedly to make way for an Israeli military firing zone. But it remains the last hope for individuals, Jewish or Arab, fighting against unjust decisions, whether legal or administrative. What’s more in Israel’s single parliamentary chamber system the Court is the only check and balance on the executive and the Knesset majority it invariably commands.
The changes to the Court should not be seen in isolation from other measures planned or already in various stages of enactment or proposal. These include allowing the death penalty – unused since the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann’s execution in 1962 – for Palestinian terrorists, and the power to deprive Arab—though not Jewish—terrorists of residency as well as citizenship. Fears of secular Israelis have been fuelled by calls from ultra-orthodox parties for an end to the ban on segregation of men and women at publicly funded events, while Smotrich has even called for the banning of Arab political parties, representing nearly 20% of the Israeli population. Already under way is a bill to curb the law officers’ power to declare the prime minister unfit to rule. Many Israelis also see the wider judicial reforms partly as an attempt by Netanyahu to escape the possible consequences of his ongoing trial on three corruption charges.
The Netanyahu coalition agreement provides for prohibitively high taxation of Israeli civil-society organisations, several defending Palestinian human rights, which draw funding from mainly European governments, including Britain’s. The measure will not mostly apply to the many right-wing, pro-government advocacy groups because they are mainly funded by rich individuals, especially in the USA.
There has not yet been any legislative attack on Israel’s still fairly vibrant press, albeit in a market dominated by the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom. But writing after the election last October Aluf Benn, editor of the liberal newspaper Haaretz, pointed out that existing legislation for ordering a state of emergency lays down powers for a press clampdown, and suggested that Netanyahu, Smotrich and Ben Gvir wanted a state “in which criticising the government or replacing it will only be a pipe dream.”
In a sense, however, the changes to the Supreme Court are the programme’s hinge, by severely weakening its right to strike down any of these or other measures because, say, they do not conform with the 1992 Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty. Indeed if so far vain attempts by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog fail to secure a compromise on the changes, and the government passes the Court legislation by the end of March as it intends, a major stand-off between it and the Court is in prospect, leaving much of Israel—perhaps even including senior Army figures—having to choose between its recognition of an elected government and its respect for the law as it has prevailed since the state’s foundation 75 years ago.
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The autumn issue of Index takes as its central theme the FIFA World Cup that will take place in Qatar in November and December 2022.
A country where human rights are constantly under threat, Qatar is under the spotlight and many are calling for a boycott of the tournament.
Index spoke to journalists, human rights activists and philosophers for the latest issue to understand their view on the tangled relationship between football and human rights. Is football really the beautiful game?[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="Up front"][vc_column_text]The Qatar conundrum, by Jemimah Steinfeld: The World Cup is throwing up questions.
The Index, by Mark Frary: The latest in the world of freedom of expression, with internet shutdowns and Salman Rushdie’s attack in the spotlight. Plus George M Johnson on being banned.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="Features"][vc_column_text]An unholy war on speech, by Sarah Myers: A woman sits on death row in Pakistan. Her crime? Saying she was a prophet.
America's coolest members club, by Olivia Sklenka: Meet the people fighting against the surge in book bans.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="Special report: The beautiful game?"][vc_column_text]Victim of its own success? By Simon Barnes: Blame the populists, not the game.
The real game is politics, by Issa Sikiti da Silva: Is politics welcome on the pitch in Kenya?[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="Comment"][vc_column_text]Refereeing rights, by Julian Baggini: Why we shouldn’t expect footballers to hand out human rights red cards.
On reputation laundering, by Ruth Smeeth: Beware those who want to control their own narrative.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="Culture"][vc_column_text]The soul of Sudan, by Stella Gaitano and Katie Dancey-Downs: What does it mean for deep-running connections when you’re forced to leave? Censored writer Stella Gaitano introduces a new translation of her work.
Away from the satanic, by Malise Ruthven: A leading expert on Salman Rushdie writes about an emerging liberalism in Islamic discourse.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
This week I was planning to write about the Queen’s speech, delivered this week by HRH Prince Charles, as the British Parliament began its new parliamentary session and the Government outlined it parliamentary priorities. There are now six proposed pieces of legislation by the British Government that will impact our collective rights to both freedom of expression and privacy in the United Kingdom. But my views on the ideological incoherence of the Government’s approach to freedom of expression will have to wait until next week.
Because today we mourn the death of another journalist. On Wednesday, Shireen Abu Akleh, a well-known and well regarded Palestinian-American journalist was killed while doing her job in Jenin.
According to Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) Shireen is the 17th journalist to have been killed in the line of duty in 2022. Index has fought to defend the rights of journalists for over fifty years. Every attack on a journalist is an effort to stop people speaking truth to power. It’s an attempt to quash dissent and to impose a single world view. And every death seeks to silence not just the voice of journalists but through them the voices of all of us. We cannot allow those who seek to repress their populations to win.
Today our thoughts and prayers are with Shireen’s family and loved ones. And as much as we mourn her today, we remember and honour the work and sacrifices made by her, her family and the sixteen other journalists who have lost their lives in 2022.
6 January - John Wesley Amady, Haiti
6 January - Wilguens Louis-Saint, Haiti
9 January - Pu Tuidim, Myanmar
17 January - Alfonso Margarito Martinez Esquivel, Mexico
5 February - Rohit Biswal, India
9 February - Evariste Djailoramdji, Chad
10 February - Heber Lopez Vasquez, Mexico
23 February - Maximilien Lazard, Haiti
1 March - Yevhenii Sakun, Ukraine
13 March - Brent Renaud, Ukraine
13 March-1 April - Maks Levin, Ukraine
14 March - Oleksandra Kuvshynova, Ukraine
14 March - Pierre Zakrzewski, Ukraine
15 March - Armando Linares Lopez, Mexico
23 March - Oksana Baulina, Ukraine
Late March – 2 April - Mantas Kvedaravicius, Ukraine
11 May - Shireen Abu Akleh, Occupied Palestinian Territory
Each of these brave journalists needs to be remembered and celebrated for their work and their sacrifice. And their families need and deserve both the truth and, most importantly, justice.