Monday, May 23, 2011

Freedom of speech and expression: A western lobby

When a scholar was asked to define “Freedom of speech and freedom of expression”, he said, “Stretch your arm to full length and where it ends, the limit of your freedom ends”. Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental rights of every individual. Its existence is necessary for democracy and human dignity. Almost in every country around the world, some degree of “freedom of speech & expression” is practiced. Surprisingly, West alone seems most interested in free speech and appears as the biggest advocate. While free speech is everyone’s right, it should be practiced in limits. Nothing in world has infinite boundaries. Similarly, absolute free speech is just a myth. According to the dictionary of "Oxford University Press"- "Oxford guide to British and American culture", Freedom of speech is:"The right to express any opinion in public. This right became part of American law under the "First Amendment". If the opinions expressed are false or damage a person's reputation, however that person can take legal action under US law. In Britain people are free to express most opinions, but it is against the law to express some ideas, e.g. ideas that aim to cause RACIAL hatred."
Free speech has been adapted dastardly, by west as a tool to defame and target Islam and Muslims. To what they call freedom of speech and expression is nothing but western lobby and terrorism. There are hundreds of examples where Islam has been targeted on the name of free speech. Where in the free speech acts it is allowed to damage some one’s reputation just because of anger and hatred towards him, let alone defaming two billion Muslims of the world? If the absolute freedom of speech is allowed to prevail then world will become a jungle where everyone would be busy in dragging others’ legs. Therefore certain level of censorship should be appreciated. Even CNN and BBC practice self-censor ship, as absolute freedom is neither desirable, nor possible.

Unfortunately, extreme detestation towards Muslim has led the western media to manipulate free speech. As a result, they end up disgracing Islam as a religion and become responsible for hurting the values of Muslims in the every possible way. Western media and activists of free speech keep launching campaigns, to prove their enmity towards Islam in favor of right of free speech. It is just another source of pulling them away from being called a “civilized nation”. Why Muslims are exasperated as a race? Why Islam is defamed as a religion and Hijab as a dress code? Why Islamic architecture- Minarets are being banned for the sake of freedom of expression?
Western lobby setup the stage for freedom of speech back in September 2005, when a Danish newspaper “Jylland-Posten” printed blasphemous cartoons of the revered prophet of Islam Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W). After this, a series of campaigns to vex Muslims were launched. Some of them are as follows:

• Geert Wilders, a Dutch Politician clearly demanded a ban on the holy book of Muslims i.e Quraan.
• He also produced a film “Fitna” in 2008, in which he shows Islam as a religion of violence, communism and Nazism.
• In 2010 Molly Norris a Seattle cartoonist repeats the history of 2005 and once again the blasphemous cartoons were drawn as a mockery.
• Molly’s evil cartoon series “south Park” led to a global controversy and outraged 2 billion Muslims of the world. The famous social website “Facebook” was used as platform to send the message of hatred for the Muslims of the entire world. A contest “Draw Muhammad Day” was initiated which caught fame and support of non-believers including Christians, jews, hindus , Sikhs and pagans with the speed of fire.
• Terry Jones, a pastor of Florida came up with an idea of “Burn Quran Day” last year, which as expected got the attention of Islamic antagonists. Some 40,000 copies of Holy Koran were burnt under his leadership.
• Recently, a new bar in the business area of Manhattan, Ne w York, has been opened, named as Apple Mecca which is similar to Kaaba in shape. This Bar will be used for supply of Wine and Drinks.
• Several times, verses from Holy Quran are printed on clothing, beddings and shoes to mock Quran and play with the sentiments of Muslims.
• Asya bibi, a Paksitani Christian passed derogatory comments about holy prophet (P.B.U.H). Though it created an endless debate, Asya bibi immediately caught the attention and support of western lobby.
Islam is a religion of peace .Islamic views towards freedom of speech are in complete contradiction with the views of capitalism. In the capitalist ideology God and religion are kept separated from one’s life affairs. Human beings define how to live their lives free of the constraints of religion which is why freedom of individual, ownership, religion and speech are essential cornerstones of Capitalism. Whereas in Islam, it is Allah who gave the right of speech to people by defining the limits as to what is acceptable and unacceptable. “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, then let him speak good (khair) or remain silent.”, Says Quraan. History proves that Muslims have always respected other religions and prophets as for them, all prophets are equally respectable. In 2003, a controversial book “Davinci code” by “Dan brown” came onto the scene, in which “Mary Magdalene”- a prostitute was shown as the wife of Jesus (Hazrat Isa) Christ. Later on a film was also produced on the same topic. It blew up Christians, leading to the world wide protests, demanding ban on the publication of book and film. Muslims along with Christians condemned the publication and production of the book and film respectively.
The limits and boundaries for freedom of speech in west need to be re-defined. In every country there are laws to protect religious books and personalities, known as “Blasphemy laws”. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws have been criticized and an amendment is being demanded. Opponents of blasphemy laws in Pakistan claim that these laws are depriving minorities to their right of free speech and freedom of expression. Interestingly, if defaming Islam is freedom of speech to Europe, then why not there are any campaigns in support of “Holocaust”? Geert wilders produced a film against Islam but why did not he choose to produce a film on the inhumane treatment of Israelis towards Palestinians? It shows that freedom of speech is nothing but a western lobby, which does not allow Muslims to practice right of free speech and expression.

The debate of free speech leaves us with following questions:
• Why do not international media speak up against the cruel behavior of Americans with the prisoners of Guantanamo bay?
• Why no steps have been taken yet to bring Afia back to Pakistan?
• Why minarets have been banned in western countries?
• Why a Muslim lady shaheeda-tul-Hijab (title) was murdered in a court, as she spoke in the favor of Hijab?
• Why in US Muslims are forced to get bodily screened?
Freedom of speech does not mean degrading others. It is a right to express one’s views, but by being in social constraints. You are free to express yourself but there is no margin for offending any person, race, or any ethnic group in the laws. Scholars of the entire world should join hands despite of the differences in their religions or cast and should make joint efforts to mark, the clear boundaries of right of freedom of speech and expression. These laws and rights should be used to spread love in the world, not hatred.

This Article by me was published in MORE MAY magazine,2011


Ph_ said...

I Agree. Freedom of speech has been taken as an undue advantage to degrade Muslim Ummah in all aspects! I wonder where now the respect of every individual of a society goes, when can go around targeting the religious values of other be it with words :(
Prejudiced and biased attitudes yet we are to be blamed for everything =/

Khurram Ali Shafique said...

We cannot retain freedom of speech or any freedom if we forget our history. That is true about the world in general as well as each nation.

The truth is that there was more freedom of speech in Pakistan from in the days of Quaid-i-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan than there was in any large state of those times - including the United States, USSR and Great Britain.

In Pakistan, one of the biggest opponents of the freedom of speech was Faiz Ahmad Faiz, who is nowadays being hailed as an icon of democracy.

We cannot get anywhere, as long as we do not set the record straight. We are living in an age of hypocrisy, where the enemies of all human freedoms pass as the defenders of freedom while those who defended freedom at great peril are being blackguarded by liars and leeches.

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