#Marte flew safely back home today, and we are very happy for her. Thankfully her ordeal is over, at least the worst of it. Her case—when inspected beyond the screaming headlines—is much more interesting than it appears. This is not just about Marte, however—and a lot has already been said—but rather the media hysteria she got enveloped in. She became a veritabel #Superstar overnight – too Famous to jail, as it turns out, and that’s Famous with capital f! We @2famousTV leave no stone unturned in our quest for #Fame—as we are changing the world for the better (or worse), one Like at a time!
A short recap: As the news of Marte’s conviction hit the fan, the Western world virtually exploded in righteous moral indignation. The U.A.E. was immediately and unanimously shamed as a misogynist Medieval hell-pit governed by arbitrary Shari’a law. “Only in a Muslim country could such atrocities happen” and it’s all nothing but another proof of the “backwardness of Islam” and its laws and the governments who are based on it. The victim was a white, Western woman, and the perpetrators “undoubtedly” Arab or African, Muslim and “medievally misogynist”. She was in basically every Western news outlet, including CNN, BBC, NYTimes, Guardian, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, and so on (and Norway’s largest newspaper VG.no had dozens of articles)—a hashtag #ReleaseMarte trended in social media, and Avaaz.org registered over 75k signatures to end the “outrageous injustice” done towards Marte by “women-hating Muslims” in Dubai. (Quotes are paraphrased from around the net.)
Unbelivae that basic international human rights can still be ignored under the disguise of "religion" … #ReleaseMarte
— Sara (@la_weggli) July 21, 2013
The case is interesting, especially since it was ruled solely on confessions from both parties. Some qualifications on the case are in order, however, if we wanna be even marginally serious (some of it is paraphrased from @jcelden, #Superstar criminal defence lawyer from Norway):
Arab Emirate vs. Mountain King
The United Arab Emirates is a conservative country with conservative laws. Norway, where Marte and I are from, is rather conservative as well compared to other European nations, especially when it comes to laws against drug-possession and prostitution. Rape is highly illegal in both Norway and Dubai. Both in Norway and Dubai public drinking is illegal. Both in Norway and in Dubai there are “morality laws” that prohibit consensual sex between adults under certain conditions—in Norway consensual sex is illegal when it’s being paid for, in Dubai it’s illegal outside a contract of marriage. Both countries’ criminal courts also adhere to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and a defendant must be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt to be convicted.
When people visit Norway, they are expected also to follow Norwegian law. It is of little use in the Norwegian justice system to argue that buying sex is legal in your own country—so be sure to know the laws before you enter under the rule of Our King!
What happened in Martes case was certainly a wicked twist of fate. After pressing charges of rape against her Sudanese manager, she was later adviced to retract those allegations and did so, having been told it would make “the whole case disappear”. That turned out to be bad advice, however—advice given to her by, or at least through, her translator—and she was suddenly stuck in a case in which she had confessed to public alcohol consumption, confessed to having made false allegations of rape and confessed to extramarital consensual sex. Both she and her attacker was sentenced to respectively 16 and 13 months for extramarital consensual sex and public alcohol consumption, which they both confessed to. Marte apparently got additional time for making a false statement (and although she retracted her retraction later in court, this was not given sufficient weight against her former confession of false statement).
Shari’a Rapes Justice! *
Lots has been said about Shari’a, rape and Dubai these last few days. Basically every major news outlet has told the story of “Woman jailed for being raped under Shari’a law!”
— Håvard (@MrHwar) July 20, 2013
Muslim justice, sentenced to prison for sex outside of marriage after she was raped. http://t.co/hZwRgZR77I
— Barbie Lee (@UF2) July 21, 2013
The problem with this, however, is that it’s simply not true. Rape cases are not tried in a Shari’a court in Dubai, but rather in the Criminal Courts. (In the Dubai emirate, rape cases can only be heard in a Shari’a court on appeal.) Consequently, there is no need for “four male witnesses” and so forth to get a rape conviction, as has been shouted far and wide in the mass-media. There are plenty cases to illustrate this, for anyone who cares to look: Policeman convicted life in prison for raping tourist; Student gets life for raping wife-to-be; Employer convicted of rape of job-applicant. Neither of these cases had a confession nor any other witnesses but the victim—the convictions were backed up by DNA-evidence and the testimonies of the victims, among other things. Never mind that this crucial piece of information has been repeated again and again—and again—in all major news outlets for days. It fits well with our view of the world, so who cares?
Rape is an extremely serious crime in Dubai, however—punishable by a minimum sentence of life imprisonment or death. Such allegations are consequently taken very seriously, as they should be, and the Dubai Criminal Courts—which were modelled on French and English judicial systems in the 1970’s—consider the defendant innocent until proven guilty, and that the burden of proof must exceed reasonable doubt—exactly like in Norway, as it were. The allegations of rape never made it to court, however, as Marte retracted her allegations. Consequently, there was no case left except the public drinking and the extramarital sex which both defendants had confessed to, and which carry a minimum sentence of 1 year imprisonment. This is U.A.E. law under Dubai courts. (In Norway, you can be jailed for six months and fined $4000 USD for paying someone for consensual sex.)
Is that you John Wayne—is this me?
However, when the media decides whom to make #Famous, such details rarely matter. I mean, if these facts had been very important to get right, somebody—of all the newspapers and TV-channels in the world—would have gotten it right, right? What seems to be more important for #Fame—or news coverage as it were—is the identity of the victim and the identity of the perpetrator. If these roles are cast in accordance with our pre-existing expectations and beliefs, then we immediately understand the story and feel strong emotions—and we Like and Share while mass-media mass-likes and mass-shares. Our expectations—and especially that of corporate mass-media—is that we are the Good Guys, and they are the Bad Guys (whoever they are in each story). If the story has us cast as the Bad Guys, and them cast as Victims of Our Crimes—the story won’t fly as well, that’s for sure. Less viral potential, you might say. That is why a story about #Marte—one of us victimized by one of them—can spread so wildly, as it reinforces and lends weight to that we indeed are the Good Guys, that we are right and better than them, and that ultimately, we are free to do whatever we want with them (as we do with abandon).
Someone who is much less likely to ever taste the Freedom of Fame, are those women, for example, who are one of them, but has been victimised by us. When the Heroine is an innocent, kind woman from Fallujah, Iraq—and the Villain is us, The U.S., Europe, Norway—well, nobody likes a boring story like that—even if the particulars of the case itself are far more shocking, instructive or objectionable.
It was bad for #Marte this week, but she’s fine now. (If you understand Norwegian, you can see and hear Marte and her mother having to answer important questions like “Do you remember what it was like to hear your mother’s voice on the phone from Dubai?” and “Have you ever had a more difficult time as a mother?” from Norway’s biggest newspaper.) The women of Fallujah, however, are not so fine. Still not fine, cause still not #Famous! #Fame is hard work people, take it from us! The women of Falluja—who are now afraid to give birth due to the explosion of birth defects due to U.S. uranium-enriched bombs littering the area since 2003—are hardly mentioned anywhere, as it’s hard to cast ourselves as such an evil villain. That story will just be too disharmonic with what we already believe, and certainly what mass-media and concentrations of power want us to believe. Fine are not a bunch of other #notfamous people either, whose only mistake in life was not to fit our expectations of a good Hollywood blockbuster hero or heroine (and of course whose perpetrator doesn’t fit the villain part either—as that perp is us): The women and children of Afghanistan raped by allied soldier or killed by Western bombs are not celebrities—villain is not the usual guy, too much confusing shit to deal with there. It still makes perfect sense that women in Afghanistan who are victims of the Taliban can get some #Fame—and press coverage—though, as it’s quite easy to grasp the poor Afghan woman as the Heroine and the Taliban as the villain. (These stories usually make for the most lofty emotions of solidarity and love and a deepest most righteous moral indignation at the horrible, horrible villain.) Children droned to death almost daily in Pakistan by us—that is the United States of America, self-proclaimed good-guy in all things and creator of Hollywood itself, and with the full support of its allies, like Norway—are not to become child-stars and plastered across the world’s media as another “juicy story” with a banger ending. They are in fact not mentioned anywhere—although someone outside mass-media made a rather shocking drone-statistics visualisation. (A must see!)
I warmly welcome that Marte Dalelv was pardoned by the Ruler of Dubai today. The fight for human rights for all continues.
— Espen Barth Eide (@EspenBarthEide) July 22, 2013
Yes, the Norwegian Foreign Minister, who was heavily involved in the diplomacy of securing #Marte’s release, continues his fight for human rights—but only in movies where he himself can be cast as the Good Guy. I haven’t seen him take much time to secure justice for the victims of allied bombs in Afghanistan—a war Norway has been actively and aggressively involved in for years, killing hundreds if not thousands. (Nobody’s counting—who’s ever gonna write that story anyway?) I haven’t heard him complain much in self-righteous words about the refugee women and children from Afghanistan either, who are denied entry at the Norwegian border, when they ever manage by super-human strength to get here.
And so on—it’s all as deep as Hollywood. One might wonder, however, if the effect of all this extremely selective reporting and news coverage does not amount to some kind of propaganda? (Gasp!!) I believe people in general are much more discernable than the mass-media they are subjected to. But when the story is repeated day in and day out—”this is the good guy, that’s the bad guy”—it’s hard to believe it can all be so Hollywood?!…. But—I guess you just have to figure out that for yourself, as they say…
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(For further reading on the casting of roles in mass-media and on the role of Western mass-media as propaganda, here’s a quote and a link to the book “Manufacturing Consent—The Polical Economy of the Mass Media,” by another villain: A propaganda system will consistently portray people abused in enemy states as worthy victims, whears those treated with equal or greater severity by its own government or clients will be unworthy. The evidence of worth may be read from the extent and character of attention and indignation. (…) While this differential treatment occurs on a large scale, the media, intellectuals, and public are able to remain unconsious of the fact and maintain a high moral- and self-righteous tone. This is evidence of an extremely effective propaganda system”)
— as Nobel Prize winner Obama visits Stockholm beggin’ for Bombs For Peace
It seems no matter where 2famous.TV sets up HQ, our dear Syrian friends are hanging out in the neighbouring country. While in Lebanon, we were delighted and rather humbled to have Syria and its beautiful land and people just an hour’s drive away across the Bekaa. Now, as some of us have relocated to Oslo, Norway, our Syrian brothers and sisters are being granted a second home i... [more]
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