Even after her death, it seems the attacks on Zahra Kazemi will not end. It was only two months ago that Canadians were stunned by new evidence that the Montreal photojournalist was tortured to death while in Iranian custody. Kazemi was arrested in June 2003 while taking photographs outside of a prison in Iran, the country of her birth. To punish her for this transgression, Kazemi's captors raped and beat her, according to a doctor who fled Iran to tell the story.Similar issues arise - with similar results - in New York, where often, anything not from a 100% pro-Israeli point of view is attacked. And of course it happens on a much larger scale to any exhibit seeking to portray another side of any US war.
Close to two years later, there are new attempts to cover Kazemi's lens, to prevent her photographs from reaching public eyes only now the censorship is happening inside her adopted country of Canada. Last week Montreal's Cote St. Luc Library removed five of Kazemi's photographs from display after Jewish patrons complained of alleged "pro-Palestinian bias"; they left up the rest of the exhibition, which had already been displayed in Paris. Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi, called the removal of the Palestinian photographs "a violation of my mother's spirit" and rightly demanded that the library show the entire exhibit or nothing at all. So the library took down the entire show.
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It's not too late to make things right. Kazemi's work must be immediately remounted, but on a much larger scale. It would be a particularly powerful gesture if members of the Canadian Jewish community, who are well known supporters of the arts, stepped forward to help hang Kazemi's photographs - all of them - on the walls of a major Canadian museum.
This would demonstrate that Canadians are capable not only of condemning censorship when it happens in far off countries, but are committed to defending the principles of freedom of expression and a genuine diversity of views and opinion here at home.
It would be a fitting, if modest, way to pay our respects to a Canadian hero who was murdered because she believed that these ideas are more than theoretical.
I'll try to follow this one, but if anyone sees an update, please feel free to send me a link. Klein's and Mate's story here.