Almost 32 years have passed since the Romanian Revolution, and nobody could’ve guessed that a high Romanian official would demand the re-introduction of censorship in mass media. After almost half a century of communism, Romanians died during the so-called revolution thinking nobody would ever dare to talk about censorship in Romania. Still, it seems these days have already come.
Raed Arafat, the Syrian-born Romanian, has got to one of the highest positions within the Ministry of Interior, and now he coordinates the Department for Emergency Situations. His voice was one of the loudest regarding restrictions of liberties during the pandemic as he constantly demanded restrictive measures and lockdowns. Now he reached another level: he demanded censorship of mass media.
Now, all my respect for the freedom of speech, but I would cut their mic off. (…) The mic should be cut off for all those who ask the people not to take the jab. At least for three months.Raed Arafat, Director of the Department for Emergency Situations within Ministry of Interior
This sort of speech is more appropriate during a break between co-workers. This is inappropriate when it comes from a high official in Romania, a state that pretends to be democratic and where the freedom of speech is guaranteed. By demanding the re-introduction of censorship in Romania, Raed Arafat brings the country back to the communist era, where people could not freely talk and express their social or political views.
In a democratic state, Raed Arafat would’ve resigned the very same day for such a statement. In Romania, where the authorities took the most restrictive measures in the European Union during the pandemic, such a statement will go unnoticed.
The pandemic cannot justify mass media censorship. It’s way off the democratic values.
Yes, the Covid-19 situation in Romania is critical, and the fourth wave hits the country like nowhere else. Still, like all the other freedoms the Constitution guarantees, the freedom of speech should be respected. Otherwise, all the rights and freedoms Romanians fought for will be lost, one by one.
A proper communication campaign would’ve done wonders in a country where the vaccination rate barely reached 31%. But the campaign should be focused both on the benefits and on the risks involved by vaccination. Transparency is the key. By hiding the risks of the vaccination, the authorities encouraged all the conspiracy theories thriving now on social media platforms. Hiding the risks of vaccination is the main reason for the low vaccination rate, and this is what the Government should’ve changed months ago.
A conclusion is clear: the failure of the vaccination campaign in Romania cannot be justified by the freedom of speech of those who express their views regarding the vaccines.