Freedom of speech and violent reaction – More respect needed

My letter published in Calgary Herald and the full version in The Barrie Examiner as Letter of the Day under title “Mocking religious leaders is not freedom of speech”

When freedom of speech was first advocated in the 18th and 19th century it was intended to lead to truth and morality. The cartoons and movies to mock religious leaders achieve neither. Freedom of speech always conflicts with other values in society, such as peaceful coexistence, and must be balanced. That is why modern democratic governments in one form or another place limits on freedom of speech.

As a Muslim I condemn the violent reaction by Muslims in some parts of the world. They have acted against the very teachings of Prophet Muhammad in whose honour they were protesting. Once returning from expedition, a hypocrite used insulting words against the Prophet. Muslims were upset and one suggested to kill him. The Prophet did not permit anyone to do so. This incident clearly indicates to Muslims how they should respond. Personally, I have not watched the anti-Islam film because Muslims have been instructed in the Quran “When you hear the signs of Allah being denied and mocked at, sit not with them until they engage in a talk other than that…”.

Islam values freedom of speech in a respectful way. Quran says “Revile not those whom they call upon beside Allah, lest they, out of spite, revile Allah in their ignorance…”  This one principle can establish peaceful co-existence. Furthermore Prophet Muhammad instructed his followers that “A believer does not taunt, or curse or abuse or talk indecently.”

If we want to live peacefully in this global village call earth we must learn to respect each other.

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