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Free Speech + Expression + Some unanswered Questions

Reader comment on item: Bibliography – My Writings on the Rushdie Rules

Submitted by jihan (United States), Feb 13, 2006 at 09:00

One of the advantages of living in the West is the freedom of speech and expression - it is also one of the disadvantages. I totally support freedom of speech and expression - including mocking religion - ANY religion and ANY aspect of any religion - including MY OWN. If I disagree with what has been said or expressed via a work of art (or even a cartoon) I express my dismay via a letter to the editor, to the artist, to the advertisers supporting the person/artist, etc....but under no circumstances are violence and destruction of property /person permissible.

If those from non-Western traditions do not understand this, they need to either resettle in a country where they will not be insulted (Iran, Saudia Arabia) due to the long-fought for Western Tradition of Free Speech and Artistic Expression or learn to live and let live in the West.

The idea of "I believe in free speech, but not when it comes to disrespect for Islam or the Prophet. One must respect Islam and the Prophet!" Sorry - that is NOT free speech - that is censored speech - and that was the exact reason the Danish newspaper published the Muhammed cartoons - to see whether or not there was self-censorship due to Islam. Golly gee - that is exactly what the Danes discovered! Free speech is fine EXCEPT for when a Muslim's feelings are hurt.

Many of the Muslim demonstrators in London and throughout the world held up signs saying "Behead those who insult the Prophet/Islam" and other such violent, hatefilled placards. Where are all of the people - Muslims and non-Muslims - who are insulted/had their feelings hurt by such hate-filled speech threatening to burn the embassies of Jordan, Lebanon, etc.?

My feelings are hurt when I read about/see videos of beheadings, honor killing, child marriage, but I do not take to the streets burning Pakistani, Saudi, etc flags, or torching their embassies!

I have several questions I wish would be addressed:

1. why didn't the publication of the exact same cartoons during Ramadan (October 2005) in an Egyptian newspaper result in violence towards the Egyptian newspaper's offices and editors?

2. if such demonstrations were spontaneous where did all of those Danish and Norwegian flags come from? How common are such flags in people's homes? Due to the "zionist" plots having US and Israeli flags at home areof course understandable...but Danish and Norwegian?

3. why were three additional cartoons shown when these three were not in the original twelve? Where did these additional cartoons come from? Whose idea was it to add these to the original cartoons? And these additional three were worse than any of the original twelve!

4. if depicting Mohammed is against Islam, why are there so many depictions of Mohammed by Muslim artists - see examples listed below - in existence? Why were such paintings allowed then, but not now? The examples listed below are in Western Museums today. Would they be destroyed if in Iran, Saudi Arabia today?

Miniature of Mohammed re-dedicating the Black Stone at the Kaaba. From Jami Al-Tawarikh ("The Universal History" written by Rashid Al-Din), a manuscript in the Library of the University of Edinburgh; illustrated in Tabriz, Persia, c. 1315.

The Night Journey of Muhammad on His Steed, Buraq; leaf from a copy of the Bustan of Sacdi, dated 1514. From Bukhara, Uzbekistan. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Muhammad's Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation; leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh (Compendium of Histories), ca. 1425; Timurid. From Herat, Afghanistan. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Journey of the Prophet Muhammad; leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh (Compendium of Histories), ca. 1425; Timurid. Herat, Afghanistan. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

5. In the EU there are laws against hate speech - why aren't these demonstrators in the EU with placards saying "Behead those who insult Islam" arrested for inciting violence against non-Muslims?

Any insight from anyone out there?
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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