The freedom of expression mantra can’t convince the Muslim world. After all it does not apply to anti-Semitism
The frenzied way the West portrays itself as the ardent believer, supporter and champion of freedom of speech and expression deludes a layman in the East that under that glittering sunshine there lies nothing inviolable. Profanity perhaps is their creed.
The curiosity to vomit out the ugliest and the hideous they celebrate as a fundamental right no one can snatch away. There, we are told, they are blasphemously outspoken. They love to be identified as iconoclasts, smashing that is adorned and held revered. Their finesse to project devil as saint and good as evil reaches a crescendo. Their marauding steps trespass the `holiest’ of the territory , we are asked to mark. So when Muslim protest on offensively insulting cartoons of greatest symbols of Islam, they burst in anger and take it as an attack on their ‘liberal values’.
But a more inquisitive look reveals the stink of double standard. The mantra of freedom is a sop that people, in particular the Muslim world, are not going to accept. The west has excruciatingly different parameters of its liberal values and is driven by different motives while implementing them. The world’s most autocratic regimes, military dictatorships, despotic kingdoms it helped to promote and suppress dissent, on the other side brazenly engineered in ousting of democratic governments. Like a prowling predator, it always formulates a new syllabus, notwithstanding the weak cowering down-stream.
A couple of weeks before Europe, in the wake of Charlie Hebdo attack, rallied in its efforts to protect its hard-earned freedom. The ‘resolve’ fructified in unprecedented show of solidarity for those who offend, ridicule, denigrate and slander. The Western leaders in a surging sea of people pledged to defend the right to abuse. This seemingly uncompromising attitude of Europe needs to be appreciated. But like its democratic values, expression norms too get corrupted. Using the pretext of freedom of expression, it glorified hate-mongers, those who incite violence, those who commit blasphemy in insulting our icons of life. But when it comes to anti-Semitism, the tall claims, that dope its zealots to not even leave mothers’ wombs unscathed, wither in a huff. Can the West allow a debate on number of Jews perished in the holocaust? Can any magazine there publish caricatures depicting Holocaust
Roger Garaudy is a French philosopher, who in 1996 published his book, The Founding Myths of Modern Israel. As the book hit the stands, Roger was condemned for ‘denying the holocaust’. It took no time for the French government to indict the author, followed by court ban on further publication of the book. Two years after Roger Garaudy was ‘ convicted, sentenced to suspended jail sentence of seven years and fined forty thousand dollars’( Essam Al-Amin, Counterpunch .org). The fate of English writer David Irwing was not different. He was, says Essam Al-Amin, ‘ apprehended in Australia in 2005 on a 1989 warrant of being a holocaust denier. He was subsequently convicted of ‘trivializing , grossly playing down and denying the holocaust’ and sentenced to three years imprisonment. And as recently as in 2011 a British Muslim Ahmad Feroze was given three years sentence in London after being convicted of ‘disseminating books deemed to be terrorist publication’. Summon courage to bear, the ‘terrorist publication’ was the ‘Milestones’ written by Egyptian Islamic Scholar, Syed Qutab Sheed.
Here you do not grumble at the curbs put on the very critical intelligence you hold dearer and which are an essential component of your value system. But that kind of restraint is not observed towards Islam and Islam’s sacred figures.
The dichotomy West practices is not only abhorring, it is a manifestation of its festering bias. The West uses blasphemy as an offending weapon to counter Islam and Islamic values.