- After the heinous attacks on the editorial offices of Charlie Hébdo in Paris, France, a whole continent pretends to reclaim the right to free speech and the freedom of the press from a religious minority. As if the Muslims had taken it away from them. Thereby, they forget that the 'liberal' and secular societies themselves have long abandoned and betrayed these basic freedoms. There has never been unlimited freedom of speech. It always depends on whom it is directed at. Real free speech is a precious asset, a cornerstone of a truly just society and an unalienable human right. Words of truth are powerful, much more powerful than violence could ever be. Gifted and at the same time critical orators have always been perceived as a danger. This is one central lesson we draw from history.
It was primarily through his courageous words against Pharao that Musa (a.s.) defeated him and freed the oppressed Bani Israel, when Allah instructed him to do so:
"Go, both of you, to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed. And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may be reminded or fear [Allah]." (Sura Ta-Ha 20:43, 44)
It were the miracolous words of the holy Quran, inspired by Allah the Almighty that brought victory to Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). And it is this powerful speech, revealed in the form of the holy Quran, that unites the most different people from all over the world into one peace-loving, godfearing community and inspires the daily lifes of billions of worshippers. Islam strongly advocates courageous free speech as a means to fight injustice, evil and to remove grievances - more than any constitutional document could ever do.
It was not without reason that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) said:
“The best Jihad is to speak a word of truth to a tyrannical ruler”
But these kinds of words are rare nowadays. Media and politicians alike do not advocate on behalf of this kind of free speech that addresses unconvenient truths. Editors, publishers and journalists do not dare to criticize their donors. And so they keep amusing themselves at the expenses of defenceless minorities and pretend they are upholding the flag of free speech.
However, few enlightened people, like former bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, do manage to recognize this shameful hypocrisy and strikingly express their doubts:
"Much of what passes for humour today is puerile and vulgar, directed at soft, obvious targets. The purpose of satire, and its justification, is to expose the injustice, blindness and hypocrisy of the powerful, and that can include religious institutions and figures. But there is no justification for deliberately belittling any community that already feels marginalised and vulnerable, as does the Muslim community in France." (The Independent, 18 January 2015, Read more.)