Europe, News Watch, Side Feature

Freedom of Speech is Not Absolute in the West

The Danish government has proposed a ban on setting the Quran alight in public after a series of burnings led to uproar in Muslim countries. Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said such burnings harmed Denmark and risked the safety of Danes.

The justice minister was adamant the proposed change in the law was not targeting verbal or written expressions or satirical drawings. But he said burning religious texts served no other purpose than creating division and hatred.

Both Denmark and Sweden have hesitated to respond to the burnings because of their liberal laws on freedom of expression.

The ban is expected to be added to a section of the criminal code that bans public insult of a foreign state, its flag or other symbol. (Source: BBC)

Freedom of Speech is often quoted by secularists as a noble value that proves the superiority of the West. They love to make empty statements like “I do not like so-and-so’s speech, but I’d defend to the death his right to say it.” In reality, freedom of speech depends entirely on arbitrary benefits and the agenda of the day.

No one will defend a person’s right to make anti-Jewish comments, for example. Westerners feel a sense of shame for their own past, so they have a particular sensitivity with regards to any criticism of the Jewish people. Western governments support the apartheid occupation of Palestine and have a very anti-Islamic agenda, so all criticism of the Zionist state is labeled anti-Semitic and banned, so much for freedom of speech.

Hate speech directed at Muslims and Islam is excused as free expression, while in many countries any speech which undermines the symbols of the nation are outlawed. Blasphemy laws are present in many secular countries, but they are not called as such. There is always a set of sacrosanct values that they will not tolerate criticism or ridicule of.

Continuing to mock and ridicule Muslims and even the Prophets is a value that Denmark says must be protected, but damaging the printed Quran must not.

Ultimately, all values for people depend on their adopted thoughts, which in the West are based on their secular ideology. The fact that their sacrosanct values change according to the potential for harm, or even the political agenda of the day, exposes secularism as a shallow incomplete basis for an ideology and should be rejected as a foundation for life.

Yahya Nisbet
Media Representative of Hizb ut Tahrir in Britain