Judgements by default

Silencing by libel suit – it’s everywhere. Deborah Lipstadt pointed out one branch a couple of weeks ago.

Now the Saudis have silenced another book. This one is by J. Millard Burr, a former relief coordinator for Operation Lifeline Sudan, U.S. Agency for International Development, and Robert O. Collins, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara. They have written a number of books on Darfur and Sudan. Their most recent book, Alms for Jihad, was published by Cambridge University Press. The authors explore how…”The Saudi royal family played a pernicious role, founding and promoting charities to spread militant Sunni Islam…” The British lawyers for Khalid bin Mahfouz and his son Abdulrahman bin Mahfouz wrote Cambridge University Press saying they intended to sue the Press and the authors for defamation against their clients.
Cambridge University Press contacted the authors, and they provided detailed material in support of their claims made in Alms for Jihad. Nonetheless, Cambridge University Press decided not to contest the argument and next week they will apologize in court.

So much for freedom of information, so much for the public’s right to know, so much for freedom of speech and the press.

Bin Mahfouz apparently has amassed a number of judgements by default, in other words the case was not tried on its merits. Everyone just caves, pays a fine, and gets out of Dodge as fast as they can. Cambridge Press had pretty deep pockets but it too folded. And now I return to the main point: Why [hasn’t] this pattern of silencing by the Saudis of authors who are critical of them been the topic of an article in the mainstream press?

Why indeed.

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