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Friday, 11 September 2020 07:19

Freedom of speech is not an absolute

THE article “Magazine reprints cartoons of prophet,” (The Mercury, September 2 2020) refers.

The attack on January 7, 2015 at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris resulting in the tragic death of 12 journalists must be condemned for what it is – a reprehensible act of violence.
The publishing of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad at the time sparked anger among many Muslims throughout the world.

Freedom of speech is considered an “essential freedom” in France. It is protected by the 1789 Declaration of Human and Civic Rights, which is incorporated by reference into the French Constitution. It is also protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, to which France is a party. Yet, while French law considers free speech an essential component of a democratic society, it is not seen as absolute. French legislators seek to balance freedom of speech with other freedoms and rights. Thus, freedom of expression may be limited for the sake of protecting privacy, protecting the presumption of innocence, and preventing defamation. Freedom of expression may also be limited for the sake of protecting public order. French law also prohibits hate speech.

The portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist is a provocation that falls within the parameters of defamation and insults, giving rise to the possibility of hate speech.
With the emergence of vicious right-wing Islamophobia, France would do well to uphold its own credo of equality and fraternity and not fall victim to unbridled duplicitousness.

LETTER PUBLISHED: THE MERCURY Tuesday 08 September 2020

Darul Ihsan Media Desk

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