Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Free speech is like food, we need it badly. If there is too little of food, we starve to death and if too much we suffer from obesity, which also kills, in the form of diabetes mellitus, heart disease and sleep apnea, to name a few.
Too little of free speech means totalitarian dictatorship and blasphemy laws and too much means obscenity, child pornography and anarchy. No wonder, there are laws against excessive free speech in Europe and USA.
Moderation seems to be the key.
Free speech certainly serves a very useful purpose, as outlined in the above quote by Benjamin Franklin. I for one is fully aware of the merits of free speech, as I struggle with moderating comments in the Muslim Times, deciding which one is free speech, adding value to the discussion and which is merely rhetoric or slander and abuse. Merit of free speech is also demonstrated by the destruction caused by blasphemy laws, in the so called Muslim countries. In the Muslim Times, we have collected scores of articles on the merits of free speech. But, here, I propose to show the other side of the coin.
Free speech these days is not invoked or allowed against any race or religion but against the Muslims and Islam alone, in the West; as James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA painfully found out, after he stereotyped against all Africans.
As the apologists of “free speech,” invoke it against the Muslims, they behave as if right to speech is absolute and has no exceptions.
They conveniently forget that many of the exceptions for freedom of speech are tackled in the Article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights.
This Article provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society.” This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas, but allows restrictions for:
interests of national security
territorial integrity or public safety
prevention of disorder or crime
protection of health or morals
protection of the reputation or the rights of others
preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence
maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary
The the apologists of “free speech,” forget that maligning all Muslims and putting them on trial, in the national media, every time a Muslim terrorist commits a horrendous crime, can lead to discrimination and actual crimes against the peace loving Muslims. No wonder many mosques have been violated in the aftermath of recent terror attacks in Paris. Mosques have been defaced with racist slogans, sprayed with gun shot, or otherwise degraded, in different parts of France. A mosque in the eastern city Aix-les-Bain was seriously damaged by arsonists Thursday night while another fire targetted a mosque in the southwest town of Albi. Pig parts were dumped outside Muslim prayer halls in Corsica.
There have been more than 50 anti-Muslim incidents in France since last week’s shootings by gunmen claiming to represent Islamist groups, the country’s Muslim community said.
The incidents included 21 reports of shooting at Islamic buildings and the throwing of some form of grenades, and 33 threats, a spokesman for the monitoring body at the Central Council of Muslims in France said.
How this “free speech,” will negatively affect the lives of millions of peace loving Muslims in the West in years and decades to come, only time will tell.
The apologists of “free speech,” forget that the Article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights, clearly provides for the exception for, “protection of the reputation or the rights of others.”
The apologists of “free speech,” forget that there are laws against slandering and defaming any one in USA.
They forget that if slandering one is a crime, slandering millions could not be “free speech?” The peace loving and moderate Muslims have nothing to do with the crimes of terrorists. Any accomplices of the crime are picked up by the police and law enforcement agencies; why then the “free media” takes on itself to malign all the innocent Muslims?
The apologists of “free speech,” forget that there are laws against denying holocaust, due to the fear that it may promote anti-semitism or violation of the rights of the Jews. But, when it comes to the honor, reputation and rights of millions of peace loving Muslims, in the West, these same apologists of “free speech,” look the other way.
In his last sermon in Mecca, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, declared life, honor and property of every human being, as inviolable. He addressed a crowd of more than a hundred thousand people, at the time of the final pilgrimage, an event that itself symbolizes human equality, “All of you are equal. All men, whatever nation or tribe they may belong to, and whatever station in life they may hold, are equal,” he said, “Allah has made you brethren one to another, so be not divided. An Arab has no preference over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one.” He asked, “What day is this?” They replied, “A sacred day.” Then he said, “What month is this?” They replied, “A sacred month.” Then he said, “What city is this?” They replied, “A sacred city.” He said, “Allah has made your blood, your property and your honor as sacred as this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this city of yours. The whole of his sermon is recorded in history and has been more famous and cherished than President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, in the Muslim world, over the centuries.
Islam places particular emphasis on honor and chastity of women and slander against the chastity of a lady, is one of the few crimes, for which the Holy Quran describes physical punishment.
The Muslim Times promotes secularism and we do not ask for any new laws, but, to safeguard the rights of the Muslim minorities in the West, we just call for equal implementation of the existing laws, to ensure our human rights, so the peace loving and moderate Muslims can confidently stand up against the Muslim extremists, both in the West and the East, in our global village.
In the wake of cold blooded murder of three Muslim students in North Carolina, some of the main stream media like Huffington Post has begun to realize the extreme consequences of stereotyping and negative portrayal of the Muslims in general. For example see the articles and video clip in:
We do not ask for any special concessions, we just ask for a few minutes of silence, so people can ponder over the proposition that slandering one is a crime, slandering millions is “free speech?”