Egypt says free Speech must Stop when Muslims offended, Other Muslims Nations Joining In
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said that freedom of expression should stop if it offends more than 1.5 billion people, following the display of images in France of the Prophet Mohammad that Muslims see as blasphemous.
Sisi also said he firmly rejects any form of violence or terrorism from anyone in the name of defending religion, religious symbols, or icons.
“We also have rights. We have the right for our feelings not to be hurt and for our values not to be hurt,” he said during an address to commemorate the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday.
“And if some have the freedom to express what is in their thoughts, I imagine that this stops when it comes to offending the feelings of more than 1.5 billion people,” he added in televised remarks.
The Grand Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar university, one of the world’s most eminent seats of Sunni Muslim learning, also called on the international community to criminalize “anti-Muslim” actions.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, who sits at the head of the thousand-year-old institution, also said that al-Azhar strongly rejects the use of anti-Muslim sentiment to rally votes in elections.
Turkey’s leader Tayyip Erdogan has called for a boycott of French goods, and Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris.
France has responded to this by saying that free speech is not negotiable, yet this is not the case in Europe. Today in England, if you insult the prophet, you can get arrested. In Austria, the European Union court convicted a woman for denouncing Mohammad.
Yet this is getting strong push back, not just from Egypt, but from Turkey, threatening to blow open NATO. Iran says that any speech against Mohammad and Islam offends Muslims; thus, it should be illegal.
One of the problems I have with this is it stands squarely in the way of free speech. We as Americans have a constitutional right to either support Islam, say nice things about it, the same with its prophet, Mohammad, or we can say bad things about what we see with the faith and its prophet.
We see a push by the UN, but some in Europe refused to allow Islamic nations to squash free speech; their thought is if it offends someone that it should be silenced, yet this is the very reason free speech was set up as a protected status in the constitution.
Our highest court has said that speech is not protected to give you speech you wish to listen to; rather, it is protected to give voice to speech we may find offensive. No place was this more apparent than in Snyder vs. Phelps, where Westborrow was taken to court for offensive speech, saying that dead soldiers were G-d’s punishment for America giving gay people rights.
While such speech is offensive to almost everyone, the court said this type of speech, even if it is distasteful is protected by free speech.
There is also the case of hypocrisy by the Muslim world. They have people that scream about Jews, calling for the murder of all of them, much of the Muslim world is silent. Others put down Christianity and blow up Buddha’s statues, as we saw in Afghanistan, yet once more, there was silence, but they then turn around and demand we do the opposite because they may be offended.
We have seen our citizens killed for what they wrote in the US as offensive to Islam, such as we recently saw in Pakistan. This should not be allowed; if you are going to do this to our citizens, we need to hold the leaders of these nations’ feet to the fire, cut off relations and make them know this will never happen again.
There have been killings in places like France; people beheaded for daring to talk about the cartoons made of Mohammad, now the Islamic world is telling us the only way this will stop is if we take away our right to speech, I beg to differ, if people don’t like living where free speech is a way of life, then leave.
This will continue to be contention, but there is no reason why we should give in to this demand; free speech is more important than someone’s feelings, even if these ‘someone’ runs over a billion.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.