It was only in the last week this scribe has produced a short essay about the Freedom of Expression and Civilized Society in ‘IndiaOpines’. Nothing could have been more pleasing and reassuring than finding the uncanny endorsement of my views in the recent sermon of Pope Francis in Philippines. For me, this was a divine encouragement to speak one’s heart without fear, without a whimper of malice, pride or prejudice.
The Great Pontiff said: There are limits to the freedom of expression. He said that freedom of speech and expression are fundamental human rights. However he added that he believes there should be limits to offending and ridiculing the faiths and beliefs of others. By way of example, he referred to Alberto Gasparri, who organizes his trips and was standing by his side on board the papal plane. “If my good friend Dr Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” Francis said while pretending to throw a punch in his direction.
The French nation was at pains after the cowardly attack at ‘Charlie Hebdo’ office that took the toll of the lives of 12 Cartoonist – journalists. The world had already expressed their solidarity, dismay and sorrow and now the torch bearers of ‘Freedom of Expression’ have come out with the new, “survivors” issue of the satirical magazine showing the Prophet in a way Muslims don’t approve. This provocation of Charlie Hebdo, in the name of ‘Freedom of Expression’ has triggered outrage from Muslim communities all over the world.
The Imam of the Al Azhar mosque has expressed its outrage at the magazine’s new cartoon, describing it as a “blatant challenge to the feelings of Muslims who had sympathized with this newspaper.” However, he has also urged the Muslims to ignore the cover, and show tolerance, because anger “will not solve the problem but will instead add to the tension and the offense to Islam.” In Lebanon, the Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah said the depiction was “a provocation to the feelings of more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, and directly contributes to supporting terrorism, fanaticism and extremists.
Does freedom of expression extend to insulting the noble and the great prophet of second most followed religion upon earth? Muslims are protesting across Europe against the new cartoon. The Muslim Imams of UK called on worshipers to show their “justified displeasure at the mockery that is made of our faith,” but in a peaceful manner.
It doesn’t need a French Philosopher or great European Agnostic to comprehend that these kind of drawings increase enmity, hatred and feelings of hostility among Muslims toward these governments and these countries.
It is the same logical, civilized and defender of human rights country, France, where on 23 th July 2014, French police had banned a planned protest for the weekend in the capital Paris against Israel’s onslaught on the Gaza Strip. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had warned that anyone caught shouting slogans against Israel or torching Israel’s flag would be arrested. While thousands of people were taking to the streets of Paris to show solidarity with Gazans, French police had fired tear gas at them and arrested at least 16 people. In addition, a French court jailed on the same day three men for six to 10 months on charges of participating in an anti-Israeli rally on July 20 in the capital’s northern district of Sarcelles.
According to Bible (1 Corinthians 11:5) – “but any women who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head – it is the same as if her head were shaven. For a woman will not veil herself, then she should CUT OFF HER HAIR; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil”
The fact is that the Christians themselves know and accept the goodness of veil. Just look at the picture and statue of Virgin Mary (peace be upon her). She will always have her in a wide flowing dress and veil on her head. (I shall discuss the dress code of Nuns in some other article).
Ironically, France is a country where between 1994 and 2003 around 100 female students were suspended or expelled from middle and high schools for wearing the scarf in class. In September 1994, the “Francois Bayrou memo” was issued by government, delineating the difference between “discreet” religious symbols able to be brought into classrooms, and “ostentatious” religious symbols (including the hijab – veil), which were to be forbidden in public establishments.
I had happened to be in France in late 1980’s and I’ve a first-hand experience of their hospitality and superciliousness. That reminds me a joke that was popular in Lille that time.
How do the French kill themselves?
They shoot 15 centimeters above their heads, right in their superiority complex.
The world knows French have great sense of humor.
By: Naim Naqvi