Feature

Why is it legal to insult Islam?

The West is once again invoking so-called freedom of speech to justify sacrilege.

The West is once again invoking so-called freedom of speech to justify sacrilege, said Nazih Leqsus in Al-Dustour (Jordan). The Innocence of Muslims—the vile film that sparked protests across the Muslim world—has no other purpose than to denigrate the Prophet Mohammed and insult all Muslims. Yet the U.S. government claims it can’t arrest those who created this foul propaganda because freedom of expression is the highest law. Really? Some Western countries persecute “anyone denying the Holocaust as someone who has committed a deadly sin,” yet slandering our prophet is allowed? That is “not freedom of expression, but a double standard.”

This supposed freedom of speech is a sham, said Qasem Ghafuri in Siyasat-e Ruz (Iran). It certainly doesn’t extend to Muslims. Ever since 9/11, Muslims in America have been spied upon and wiretapped, their every utterance monitored. Even U.S. newspapers aren’t free, since “they are forbidden to publish pictures of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.” That’s why it’s impossible to believe that the U.S. government had no hand in producing and distributing this film. Had the U.S. wished to block the film from going on the Internet, it would have. Instead, it allowed the release, knowing that riots would follow. 

Of course, nothing excuses violence, said the Daily Times (Pakistan) in an editorial. All good Muslims mourn the deaths of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and his colleagues, killed during a riot against the film. But Muslims are justifiably enraged by the U.S. refusal to ban “hate speech masquerading under the umbrella of freedom of expression.” Punishing those responsible is the only way forward, said Hewad (Afghanistan). “It would be best for the U.S. to sentence this filmmaker to death as soon as possible.” Until then, expect more violence.

Why do we continue scapegoating all Westerners for the actions of a few? asked Yassir Abu Hilalah in Al Ghad (Jordan). “Would we accept responsibility for the Taliban’s destruction of ancient statues of Buddha?” Of course not—we condemned it, just as most Americans condemn the hateful film. Rioting plays into the provocateurs’ hands, said Hani Shukrallah in english.Ahram.org.eg. They wanted to interfere in the U.S. presidential election. Those behind the film “counted on an irrational and violent reaction,” so they could claim that President Obama should not have supported the Arab Spring. Who benefits? “Netanyahu’s Israel, of course.” The film may even have been “a Mossad operation.”

Both sides are doomed to continue this cycle, said Abdullah al-Suwayji in Al Khalij (United Arab Emirates). The West will continue wrongly insulting Islam under the guise of free speech, and we will keep wrongly responding with violence—at least until both the Western and the Muslim worlds “become societies that are ruled by intellectual and civilized institutions.”

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