Social. Political. Economic. Career| Seyed Ibrahim

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The fake Freedom of Expression in Europe and US

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Nov 2015:

“In a further demonstration of how ‘freedom of speech’ has clear, tangible double standards, France, the land of Voltaire and Charlie Hebdo, the ‘bastion of laicete’, has now criminalized merely suggesting or encouraging an economic boycott of Israel.”


“In the modern world, nationalism and secularism are indeed the new religions of our times, and their ideals and symbols are considered taboo and sacrosanct. Therefore, one cannot mock those symbols, and ‘freedom of speech’ simply does not exist for those topics.

Of course, secular nationalism allows actual religiosity to be mocked, and even God and His Prophets are considered legitimate targets, all under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’. Yet, just try criticizing the symbols of a nation, or its sacred secular values, or its soldiers, or its citizens who are respected and see how much of a pass ‘freedom of speech’ will get you.

Here in America, it is simply taboo to criticize or mock the victims of 9/11, or the bravery and dedication of the troops, amongst other topics. In other lands, all peoples have values and individuals who are viewed as being beyond criticism – or, to put it in religious terms, as being sacred. The problem comes when those people who justify insulting religious symbols fail to see their own hypocrisy when they criticize those who mock their secular symbols.

The latest issue of Charlie Hebdo mocks the victims of the Russian plane crash, in extremely vulgar and disgusting cartoons. Obviously, the Russian people and its government responded as any sane, rational human being would: ‘Have you no shame?!’ And we do not see any mainstream media outlet republishing those cartoons. Nor have world leaders criticized the Russians for their legitimate anger at the publication of such cartoons.

In fact, even Charlie Hebdo has its own taboos! We are still waiting for that magazine to make fun of their own cartoonists who were massacred by terrorists. Do they truly believe in the ultimate freedom to defame all? …” (Yasir Qadhi, Facebook Page)


Definition (from Wikipedia):

Holocaust memorialFreedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise

Dr. Mahathir’s arguments:

If freedom is a part of human rights, not the rights of the West alone, Asians must have their rights to their own norms and code of morality. Otherwise Western freedom would be about denying others their freedom.

Western values are not universal, no matter what the Westerners claim or believe about their values. Other people and Asians have their own values. If the West believes that freedom must be enjoyed by all, must be universal, then that freedom must be extended to the values subscribed by others.

If you don’t believe others should have freedom to enjoy their own values then you do not really believe in freedom as a part of human rights. Of course certain events we are seeing today seem to indicate that the West has arrogated freedom to themselves only. The freedom to kill people, including innocent people, is obviously a part of Western freedom.

Free Speech in the West:

The lower house of the French Parliament approved legislation making it a crime to deny that the Turkish Army committed genocide against Armenians in the early 20th century.The French bill requires a fine of 45,000 euros and a year in jail for “those who have praised, denied or roughly and publicly downplayed genocidal crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey accused France on Friday of genocide against Algerians: “Approximately 15 percent of the population in Algeria have been subjected to a massacre by the French starting from 1945,” Mr. Erdogan said of the French dominion, which ended in 1962. “This is genocide.”

Several of them (Austria, Belgium, Germany,Hungary etc ) also have laws against denial or trivialization of Holocaust.

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad writes,

But the most blatant example of control over public expression is with regard to the protection of the Jews. Not only will any criticism of the Jews be condemned, but laws have been enacted in many European countries which makes it illegal for anyone to dispute any aspect of the Holocaust. No one may question the claim that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Thus when David Irving, a British historian, doubted the 6 million figure, he was arrested and jailed in Austria even though his opinion was not expressed in that country. Since then no one has dared to openly question the veracity of the claim on the number of Jews killed by the Nazis


One has full freedom of speech to deny the existence of God, ridicule Messengers and Prophets and even burn holy books. If anybody objects, he is labelled an enemy of free  speech, or obstructionist of critical thoughts. But, the free speech and critical questioning are not allowed for a few items.

On a related note, Foreign Policy magazine has an article “What Libyan Rebels Could Teach Obama About the Rule of Law – By Tom Malinowksi“. Libyan rebels have a better understanding of human rights than US Congress and its President Obama.

Jan 15, 2015 Update

More evidences of hypocrisy from France, the so-called Republic of Liberté

1. A 2009 news The Telegraph article listing selective application of “freedom of speech”

Left-wing cartoonist is to go on trial on Tuesday on charges of anti-Semitism for suggesting Jean Sarkozy, the son of the French president, was converting to Judaism for financial reasons


2. France Arrests a Comedian For His Facebook Comments, Showing the Sham of the West’s “Free Speech” Celebration

“… As pernicious as this arrest and related “crackdown” on some speech obviously is, it provides a critical value: namely, it underscores the utter scam that was this week’s celebration of free speech in the west. The day before the Charlie Hebdo attack, I coincidentally documented the multiple cases in the west – including in the U.S. – where Muslims have been prosecuted and even imprisoned for their political speech. Vanishingly few of this week’s bold free expression mavens have ever uttered a peep of protest about any of those cases – either before the Charlie Hebdo attack or since. That’s because “free speech,” in the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike be cherished; anything else is fair game.”

Yasir Qadhi’s FB Updates (Aug 2014):

Twitter recently announced that they would delete any tweets that showed images of the execution of the American journalist James Foley, and ban the account of the user who posted such images. Facebook as well announced a strict policy in this regard. This was done to respect the memory of the deceased and honor his family’s request.

Now, I actually sympathize with this type of censoring, mainly because I don’t feel that such gruesome images should become commonplace and be seen by millions of men, women and children (and I mean ALL gruesome images, not just of this journalist).

However, what was interesting was the fact that this news wasn’t given that much national attention, nor was there any outcry regarding ‘censorship’ or ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘infringing on rights’. In fact, quite the opposite: most people who commented were supportive. People in the Western world, by and large, are sympathetic to such a ban, and appreciate the respect that Twitter and FB are showing to the families of the bereaved.

This proves my point that I made in a lecture many years ago, when the controversy over the blasphemous images of the Prophet (SAW) erupted. I claimed back then that the issue of the cartoons had nothing to do with ‘freedom of speech’, but rather with each society’s own views on what is acceptable and unacceptable to show.

Each society has a self-imposed and ever-changing red-line of taboos that it will not cross, in speech or in images. For this society, respect should be shown to the deceased’s family; for us Muslims, an infinitely more amount of respect should be shown to our religious symbols and especially to our Prophet (SAW).

Here’s the link to the lecture…eight years ago!

Yasir Qadhi’s FB Updates (Sep 2012):

US:   A Church that is infamous for staging protests outside the funerals of military servicemen has now been banned from being within a few hundred feet of any funeral. Why? Because their signs were deemed to hurt and cause offense to the families of the servicemen.

Note that I am not supporting what this Church does – I find it in very poor taste. Yet I cannot help but point out, once again, that certain types of offensive speech (such as slander) is indeed something that IS banned in all countries in the world. It’s just a matter of what one respects and gives value to.

UK/France: The bulk of the Western world supports blocking the publication of the topless pictures of Princess Kate (Middleton), out of decency to her and the Royal Family. There are hardly any voices clamoring for the ‘freedom’ to publish such photos, and those that have published them are being taken to court (A French court ordered in Royal’s favour). And I agree, such photos shouldn’t be published.

But people need to realize that Muslims the world over respect their Prophet infinitely more than the British respect their monarchy. Just like they have their standards of decency, we have ours.Ultimate and unconditional freedom of speech does not exist in any country in the world.

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Written by S Ibrahim

Dec 24, 2011 at 11:10 am

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