FREEDOM of expression must not be confused with freedom from the consequences of expression. Exercising freedom and abusing it are not the same. The latter forfeits the former. Just because we are free to express ourselves, it doesn’t free us from the responsibility for what we express. We are responsible for what we say and do and for the consequences thereof and so must consider carefully what we want to express. This is the basis of what we call civilized socially responsible behavior.
Once again we have an attack on the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) on whom it seems to be open season all the year round for people to take pot shots. And then cry foul when those who love him get upset. The rule seems to be, ‘I will say or do whatever I want but you must not get offended.’ Another rule, ‘Prove your maturity and culture by not being offended by insults.’
Seems strange indeed to us who are brought up in a culture where honor is not just important, it is everything. Respect for our signs and symbols is what our sense of honor is based on. And there is no symbol of our honor other than Allah Himself, that is more important than the Prophet (Peace be on him). So if someone insults him, it is very natural for a Muslim to feel sad and very mad. The claim of those who make these attacks is, ‘But we are not offended when someone blasphemes against Jesus or Moses. So how can you be offended when we insult Mohammed (Peace be on them all)?’ That is like saying, ‘I am not offended if you curse my parents and so you should also not be offended if I curse your parents.’
Our response is of course, ‘We have never cursed your parents in the first place. And secondly if you are not offended if someone curses your parents it is a sign that you are lacking in a sense of honor. That you are shameless. How can you demand that we also become shameless?’ For the record, find me a film made by a Muslim which abuses Jesus or Moses? You won’t find it because we revere them as prophets of Allah. So when Muslims have not done anything to abuse Christianity or Judaism, why should they be subjected to abuse from Christians and Jews (the people who allegedly made this ridiculous film) and be compelled to accept it?
I am not for a moment justifying or countenancing the violent protests and the unfortunate killing of innocent people. I have already spoken against that on several occasions since it happened. However I am writing this to request all responsible people to seriously wake up and start asking some pointed questions. One of which should be, ‘What was the need for this film in the first place? What is wrong with letting people believe whatever they want? What is wrong with leaving people alone with their religions – which is a basic human right?’
Why must people be forced to tolerate insults? Why must people be forced to sacrifice their honor just because those who have no honor want to exercise their fancy? Is this fair? Is anyone interested in justice anymore?
If we go by this logic then the right to safety and security must be balanced by the right to terrorize a population. The right to education must be balanced by the right to remain ignorant. The right to health must be balanced by the right to sickness. The right to marriage must be balanced by the right to rape and so on. Crazy, isn’t it? Just as crazy as the call that the right to freedom of religion must be balanced by the right to blaspheme any religion. These people want to impose the rule on us that if the followers of any religion want to practice their religion then they must be prepared to accept the fact that all that they hold holy and sacred will be blasphemed, insulted, degraded and desecrated by other people who don’t care about their feelings and they must accept this treatment without complaint.
Doesn’t that sound like a gross violation of human rights? It does, to me. Violence to human rights is not only physical violence. It is also violence that is psychological and mental. Ask any divorce lawyer who is suing on the basis of mental torture. This is an accepted principal in law. Freedom is defined as something that you are permitted to do as long as it does not violate someone else’s freedom; does not hurt someone else; does not harm anyone else. That is why the famous saying, “Your freedom ends where my nose begins.” If we define freedom as the unbridled right of someone to do whatever he or she wants irrespective of what harm this action or speech may do to someone else’s dignity, reputation, relationships or position, then we would have complete chaos and anarchy.
Defined in the way the makers of this ridiculous film and their supporters are demanding, freedom of speech must be rechristened ‘freedom to abuse’, ‘freedom to hurt’, ‘freedom to damage’, freedom to destroy’. This is a completely senseless argument and this behavior is not civilized at all. It is barbarism and oppression at its worst. So what is so different when it is done by film makers with the target being not one man or woman but an entire population? If anything it must make the crime humungous in magnitude.
Mirza Yawar Baig in Saudi Life. Here
In my view it is important for people of all religions to come together and stand together to ensure that freedom of worship and freedom of expression is ensured for everyone. And that this is done with an understanding of responsibility for expression. There can be no freedom of worship or expression when some people insult and abuse what someone else worships or reveres. Insulting someone personally is not accepted as a freedom in any civilized society. If someone did that they would become liable for legal action and punishment. So how can it be accepted to insult someone or something that an individual worships or considers holy?
Will someone explain this insanity to me please??