French imam says beheaded teacher is martyr for freedom of speech


Every human life is precious and sacred and killing one is like triggering a genocide. (Al Quran 5:32/33)

The Muslim Times has the best collection for free speech, about hate speech and to promote secularism in every country of the world. Suggested reading: Islamophobia and Antisemitism: Facebook will ban Holocaust denial posts under hate speech policy

By Antony Paone

PARIS (Reuters) – A French imam said on Monday that the history teacher beheaded for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class was a martyr for freedom of speech, and he called on mosques in France to pray for the teacher on Friday.

Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Paris suburb of Drancy’s mosque, warned against Islamist extremists and called on parents not to foster a hatred of France.

Laying flowers outside the Conflans-Sainte-Honorine suburb school where the teacher was killed by an 18-year-old suspected Islamist of Chechen origin, Chalghoumi, accompanied by other Muslim leaders, told reporters it was time for the Muslim community to wake up to the dangers of Islamist extremism.

“(The teacher) is a martyr for freedom of expression, and a wise man who has taught tolerance, civilisation and respect for others,” said Chalghoumi, who as president of the Imams of France Conference has regularly called for interfaith tolerance.

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Categories: Free Speech, Human Rights

7 replies

  1. First things first. Every human life is precious and sacred and there is never a justification for murder.

    Humanity needs rules for free speech and against hate speech and just application across religious and ethnic divides according to the Golden Rule.

    European Convention on Human Rights best describes free speech and its exceptions.

    Article 10 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

  2. Crucially, the ECHR allows for criticism and mockery of religion. As it should. A society that does not allow dissent and challenge of different beliefs is not a place I would want to live.

  3. Ak. But why would you want to criticise and/or mock someone’s religion or belief? What pleasure or satisfaction would you gain from tormenting others? It says more about the perpetrator than the person who has been attacked for his/her belief. I know people of various religions. I may discuss certain aspects of their religion, and I may have different views, but it would never occur to me to insult them. So long as they don’t hurt anyone, it should be a case of ‘Live and Let Live’. I don’t support any extremism, and what happened to that teacher and other such acts are barbaric, not acceptable in a supposedly civilised world. But neither is provocation for no logical reason, other than that a particular religion is not liked, whether it’s Judiasm, Christianity, Islam or any other. On the other hand, I appreciate that much of the problem lies with the large number of Muslims who have arrived in Europe. people feel that their culture has been threatened, and the radicals who are evolving because of circumstances. Mocking their religion is not going to solve the problems, rather it will exacerbate them. The matter should be dealt with in an intelligent manner.

    • Right. Just one addition: If anyone feels threatened by a large number of ‘different people’ arriving does that not show their own insecurity? As Ahmadi Muslims we are everywhere in the minority (so far) but we do not feel threatened in our faith. Just …

    • Renate – you’re missing the point. Offence is entirely subjective – every person feels offended by different things. What offends me may not offend you, and vice versa. Who decide where the line is drawn?

      What if someone finds the Bible or the Quran offensive or insulting? Does that mean they should be banned? What if someone finds your beliefs offensive? Does that mean you should not be free to practice them, or to state them?

      Of course not. But just as you’re free to espouse your opinions and beliefs; others are free to express theirs, and in some cases, theirs will be contrary to yours, and you may deem theirs offensive (and vice versa). That is the measure of a liberal, tolerant society – we are all free to express our contrary views – even when others may not like them.

      Many religious people have beliefs I find deeply offensive – beliefs about women, about homosexuality, about sex outside of marriage, about people of other religions (or none). I don’t like those beliefs and I don’t respect them. They offend me deeply. I find them incredibly insulting. But I do respect the right of someone to hold those beliefs.

      The reason that Western Europe is such a tolerant, liberal, and free society is precisely because religion – the status quo – was challenged, and criticised, and mocked. People died for that freedom, and a free society will not be silenced because someone claims to be offended.

      Be careful what you wish for. If you wish to stop people saying or doing things that cause offence, then you could find religion at the top of the list of things to be banned.

  4. Ak You make a well-reasoned argument. The fundamental issue regarding the cartoons about Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) centres on (from my perspective) the clearly nasty slander about his character. Muslims are required to honour the Prophet for his commitment and sacrifice in delivering the Message as stated in the Qur’an. In the face of evidence of his remarkably good, steadfast, reliable, charitable character Muslims who are the beneficiary of his onerous mission, are naturally pained and alarmed by the casual slander of the cartoons. In any Western society slander and seeking damages for such behaviour are part of standard civil law. What is apparent is the sleazy hypocrisy of the French state when it comes to other religions such as Judaism. One can AUTOMATICALLY be prosecuted and jailed in France if you published statements, gave a talk or indeed published cartoons denying or criticizing the claims of the Holocaust (never mind denial of God!) and also at high risk if you called out Israel for its extensive war crimes yet the FACTS of these subjects have been objectively researched.
    In a Islamic society of Prophet Muhammad’s time the killing of the French teacher would have mandated capital punishment- a life for a life unless the teacher’s family granted pardon, but that would not mean even then, that the killer would be set free because of the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens from anyone with a capacity to murder without justification. The Qur’an doesn’t allow execution or injury to anyone for provocation or insult of a Prophet or faith, given there is a command to avoid giving such behaviour any publicity/attention other than combating with facts. If execution was condoned in anyway than the pagans of Mecca and Medina would never have had an opportunity to come to understand the beneficence of Islam and thus eventually accept it en masse, because history and the Qur’an confirm for us the Prophet Muhammad was constantly surrounded by the undermining, taunts and treachery of his enemies and hypocrites. Well before he was designated as a Prophet, the townspeople of their own free voilition gave him the nick-name of “Al-Amin’ i.e the trusted one.Thus to take the Prophet’s example it would be reasonable for Muslims to seek damages against the French state for permitting defamation against facts that serve the public interest (i.e. the well-being of Muslims which comprise a significant portion of the public interest). This would also provide an opportunity for the uneducated to learn the truth about Islam and Prophet Muhammad(pbuh), a provision which is incumbent on muslims anyhow.

  5. @ Kaifa – Good luck in winning a slander or libel case in relation to a figure who lived in the 6th century! Ha ha. But your claim that Muslims are singled out is simply not true. Charlie Hebdo has produced cartoons about everyone – all religions, all political, and public figures. Have you not seen the cartoons of an Orthodox Jew kissing a Nazi Officer, or the numerous cartoons featuring the Pope?
    No set of ideas is above criticism – none. You’re free to be offended if someone criticises a belief system you choose to adhere to; you’re free to challenge the arguments or views of those you disagree with, but you are not free to silence people – and certainly not through violence and intimidation. It really is that simple.

    As I said above, if you think you can censor those who say things you don’t like, expect to be censored yourself, because someone somewhere will be offended by what you have to say or what you choose to do. With respect, the only hypocrisy I see is coming from one side only, whereas what I’m saying is that no-one has the right to go through life not being offended, whether they be Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist, Pastafarian, Satanist… whatever.

    A grown-up, civilised society accepts different view points, even those they don’t like. Don’t forget that the freedom that allows people to challenge or mock your religion is the same freedom you have to practice your religion. You have to accept both in a free, tolerant society.

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