Free Speech And The Middle East

Because of the thirteen minute, anti-Islam movie “Innocence of Muslims” the topic of freedom of speech has been the latest clash between the West and Muslim nations at the United Nations recently.

The Turkish Foreign minister said "It's time to put an end to the protection of Islamophbia masquerading as the freedom to speak freely.” I guess he has never seen a hate protest by the Westboro Baptist Church to understand what freedom of speech means to us.

The new Egyptian president also gave a speech at the United Nations in which he stated "We accept from others, as they expect from us, that they respect our cultural specifics and religious references, and not impose concepts or cultures that are unacceptable to us.”

The first part of that statement “We accept from others” in reference to Middle East Countries accepting new cultures and beliefs is factually, absolutely false . Minorities of other religions are persecuted and discriminated in these countries, as are women. The discrimination and persecution also are directed against other non-main stream Muslims.

I read an account the other day that a man was arrested in an Muslim country because he wasn't “praying right” Something that had to do with how he was kneeling. Then we have the schism between Shite and Sunni Muslims. Sunnis are persecuted in Shite countries and Shites are persecuted in Sunni countries. Doesn’t matter both groups are Muslims.

The second part of that statement “ respect our cultural specifics and religious references, and not impose concepts or cultures that are unacceptable to us” sounds like a one way street. They certainly don't respect our culture. Children in many Islamic countries are raised in schools with the teachings of the West being decadent and immoral and those lessons are continued as they grow older in controlled media and fiery sermons.

The danger of curtailing freedom of speech is how we draw a line on what is “unacceptable” speech and what is not? Unacceptable to one group (including different Muslim groups) could be fine to other groups.

There are some Muslim countries where an American woman could not walk in the open freely without covering her face. Does that mean we are respecting their cultural beliefs or does that mean they are not accepting our cultural beliefs where we don't believe a woman has to cover her face?

Once you limit freedom of speech, anyone that worships or behaves differently from the main masses can be persecuted, and that is exactly what is happening right now throughout the Middle East.

The Middle East will never flourish unless the free exchange of ideas and speech are allowed. When a country restricts speech it's a form of control. New ideas and concepts are a danger to repressive regimes.

Could we imagine how long North Korea, in it's present form would exist if all of a sudden there were a free press? Right now there is zero tolerance in North Korea for any criticism or truth about their government. If there were, it would be a catastrophic event for their government. Such is the case in many Islamic governments. Controlling free speech is vital to maintaining the status quo.

I doubt in my life time if any Islamic countries will understand the principle we value so dearly, freedom of speech. I actually sent a email to Hubpages trying to get guideline on what is accepted here and what is not. Even in such an open society such as the United States freedom of speech can be curtailed under the current political environment of political correctness under the guise of not “offending” someone.

We all have read about book burnings and other ridicules situations such as taking the word “Christmas” out of Christmas celebrations for fear of offending non-believers.

Once we start cherry picking on what is acceptable and unacceptable in regards to free speech, then we go down that slippery slope towards repression.

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AlexDrinkH2O profile image

AlexDrinkH2O 4 years ago from Southern New England, USA

Outstanding! You nailed it. I don't know if many people realize it, but Islamist countries behave much like totalitarian regimes do - consider Saudi Arabia - they won't let in any bibles or anyone who preaches any other religion. Sounds much like Nazi Germany or the USSR, doesn't it? The ideas of a book don't agree with your "official" ideology? Ban them! Burn them! Now we have people in this country trying to have laws passed banning criticism against their "prophet." This is not only ridiculous, but downright dangerous. I just hope common sense prevails and "political correctness" doesn't undermine the First Amendment. Great hub!


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank you Alex. I actually sent a letter to hub pages to get their policy on what I could write. Seems political correctness dictates on how you can write about different groups so not to offend. There is a major difference of "telling it like it is" and hate speech.

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