Free speech or provocation?

Published: September 21, 2012

The writer is a London-based lawyer and tweets @ayeshaijazkhan

One of the tragedies of our times is that it has become impossible to discuss any issue on its merits without being attacked by either one side or the other and being presented with false equivalences as if they were real arguments. For instance, why can’t I talk about the fact that many of our laws in Pakistan discriminate against religious minorities without someone bringing up drones or some unrelated matter on Western imperialism? Similarly, why can’t I note that there is rising Islamophobia in the West and that films like the reprehensible Innocence of Muslims are deliberate provocations in the guise of free speech without being told from someone on the other side that Pakistani lawyers garlanded a murderer called Mumtaz Qadri? What on earth is the connection?

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected through large-scale immigration and the Internet, perhaps, the most important need going forward will be harmony among disparate communities and a need to understand each other. This can only be done if there is greater introspection on all sides. What I see instead is far more calls for the other side to “Look in your mirror”, as Thomas Friedman advised Muslims recently, but very little inclination to do so oneself. And Western analysts alone are not guilty of this. The same thing happens with amazing consistency in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. As a result, audiences tune into what they want to hear respectively and this only leads to greater polarisation.

I admire liberals in general, whether they are in Pakistan speaking out against the many shortcomings of Pakistani society or in the West speaking out against discrimination towards immigrants or faulty foreign policy. Liberals in Pakistan are particularly courageous because the environment is often not conducive to speaking out on sensitive subjects and because it is easy to be dubbed a “traitor”. But what I do not understand is why some are so oblivious to the rising Islamophobia in the West or simply cannot stand any mention of it. Is it that they are just not aware of it or do they think it would undermine their argument if they were to acknowledge it?

A common theme in the aftermath of the anti-Islam film that sparked regrettable violence across the Muslim world was that this outrage was manipulated for the benefit of hard line groups that wish to promote their agendas in the guise of political Islam. I agree with this analysis. However, I must also question why it is not pointed out that those who are linked to such anti-Islam films and other provocations in the West are also manipulating public sentiments for their political agenda. That is, the agenda of the far Right, which will readily blame all rising unemployment on immigrants stealing their jobs or gladly paint Muslims as “violent savages that hate our values” so it becomes easier to bomb Iran, for example.

Equally importantly, it is not just foreign policy that is affected when Muslims are dehumanised. In 2007, I was in New York for the summer. I was residing in the Upper West Side, which is a nice area and I felt no discrimination by virtue of being Muslim or brown. One day, however, I walked into a salon that advertised “Eyebrow Threading”. When I told the woman inside that I had come in because of the sign outside, she told me to take a seat. From the way she held the thread, I could immediately tell she was Pakistani but before I could ask her where she was from, she asked me. Naturally I said, “Pakistan”. For the next five minutes she was frozen, statuesque, her thread stuck in her fingers, as if she had been transported to Madame Tussauds. I stared back at her wondering what her problem was. And then in a hushed voice she said to me,“Mein bhi Pakistan se hoon magar mein kehti tau nahin hoon kisi ko”.

Kyun?” I asked her, completely perplexed, and she went into a detailed description of how her husband’s business had been burned right after 9/11, targeted because they were Muslims, how they had lost so much that now she worked on the Upper West Side commuting in from a not so nice part of Queens and that the only way she felt safe was by concealing her Pakistani Muslim identity.

Free speech is great but if it results in an environment that demonises a community and renders it unsafe for them or more conducive to hate crimes against religious minorities, it must be revisited. Incidentally, I would advocate the same standard for those preaching hatred against Jews, Christians, Hindus or any sect of Islam in sermons after Friday prayers, for example, that I would for those preaching hatred against Muslims or Islam in the West.

Much is made of the First Amendment to the US Constitution that guarantees free speech. Yet, narrow exceptions have been made to it. In the case of Virginia vs Black, for instance, cross-burning, when it is done to intimidate a group or person is not protected as free speech. Surely, there is a historical reason behind this, intricately connected to the activities of the Ku Klux Klan that had been instrumental in fomenting racial tension and hatred. But shouldn’t changing realities in the new world order also merit at least a debate on the pros and cons of unrestricted free speech?

In France, on the other hand, it must be pointed out that the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, that unapologetically published the cartoons of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) not once, but twice, fired the employee responsible for drawing a cartoon of Nicolas Sarkozy’s son depicting him as having converted to Judaism to get ahead in life. It is then not completely outrageous that Muslims feel double standards are at play, as free speech is never absolute. It is always subject to a value system.

I must add here that the modern Western world has at least legally offered greater protection to religious minorities than the rest of the world. However, we must be equally vigilant towards the hard liners vying for political Islam and instigating crude violence in Muslim countries as we should to the far Right pursuing its agenda in the West through sophisticated provocation.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (63)

  • Hamza
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:41PM

    a Rare piece of balanced analysis based on richness of observation rather than impulsively invoked fears-cum-prejudices generally seen in the extreme leftist-rightist extremist-liberal divide. Thank you for a voice of sanity.

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  • Hamza
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:47PM

    A rare piece of balanced analysis not inspired by personal prejudices/childhood traumas in an otherwise literary environment disgusted by extremists and extremist liberals. Thank you for a sane voice

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  • Parvez
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:48PM

    You have nicely given both sides of the argument. The funny thing is that every time the West comes up with something provocative, we react by shooting ourselves. Now one would ask how is that going to persuade them to desist.

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  • Parvez
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:48PM

    You have nicely given both sides of the argument. The funny thing is that every time the West comes up with something provocative, we react by shooting ourselves. Now one would ask how is that going to persuade them to desist.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:53PM

    So you think an Egyptian came to the USA to make a movie to help the “extreme right” foment anger towards immigrants who were taking American jobs – and you think it’s appropriate to use an isolated event that took place right after 9/11 as proof of a growing Islamophobia? I have a different idea .. a Coptic Christian who was persecuted by Muslims in Egypt came to the USA and put together a anti Muslim movie in an act of revenge – said movie was soundly rejected by Americans so he put it on the internet where it sat for months until Islamic fundamentalist pulled it off the shelf on the anniversary of 911 to foment anger toward the USA. Seemed to have succeeded and it’s not that complicated.

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  • BlackJack
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:09AM

    The writer wants global peace and harmony, which in itself is admirable, if rather idealistic considering the world today. However, she glosses over issues within Pakistan (which are apparently less important or severe than those in the West); the 3 million muslims in the US are apparently suffering untold humiliation and discrimination despite which they somehow decide not to return to their home country, while Pakistani Hindus are lining up before the Indian embassy in droves and the Hazaras are disappearing by the bus load. She asks
    What on earth is the connection?
    There is no connection. But the day you can see yourself and others as human beings instead of muslims/ non-muslims, the world will see you the same way. I have never heard of Indians being referred to as Hindus – even if the bulk of the Indian diaspora in the US are Hindu. The reason is that they don’t behave that way or try and get concessions specific to their religious identity – they do help their home country, and we are grateful. Muslims need to start identifying themselves differently.

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  • John B
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:12AM

    Here is the question: who is provoked in that film, if that were the intention?

    The film did not depict that muslims are raped and murdered by Jews and Christians to provoke the Muslims, as it is often claimed by the new class of Islamic zealots from PAK to middle east.

    If any, the film should make Jews and Christians angry since it depicts that the early Muslims were bad to them.

    Why should it matter now? Aren’t the Muslims of today very tolerant and understanding and acknowledge their historical faults and moved on and live in harmony with others wherever they go, intermarry and dine in unison and stand up for others besides themselves?

    The author should read beyond Virginia Vs Black and re- read It again.

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  • Nikos Retsos
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:13AM

    It is provocation – Plus!

    The Muslim protests against the U.S. are not really about the anti-Islamic video. Since the 1979 Revolution in Iran, the U.S. has been heralded by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, and many Imams in the Muslim world, as “The great Satan.” Add to that: a) The blind U.S. support for Israel. b) The U.S. invasion of Iraq. c) The War in Afghanistan. d) U.S. Predator Drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen that have killed hundreds -if not thousands- of civilians. d) The U.S. sanction on Iran that have been denounced by 120 countries at the Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Tehran recently. All that has left an anti-American hostility simmering across the Muslim world.

    Then came that U.S. originated anti-Muslim video, and it was like dowsing that “simmering hostility” with barrels of gasoline! The video was just the spark that ignited it, and turned it into a conflagration! For the Muslims, it was insult on top of all past U.S. injuries, and in their psyche it was “The straw that broke the camel’s back!” Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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  • Tj
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:22AM

    A line needs to be drawn in the insanity and irrationality of our people, no one harm us as
    Much as we have harmed ourselves.period.

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  • Sultan Ahmad
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:24AM

    Freedom of speech is a noble value. But it must be exercised within the framework of decency, honesty and respect. Otherwise, freedom of speech will become a nuisance. When speech is driven by insults, it reinforces stereotypes and prejudices, which is clearly something we neither want nor can afford to have in a pluralistic society. The values taught to us by the Holy Prophet(sa) are simple but elegant which once incorporated in any setting, personal, cultural, national or international, will guide towards truth while preserving justice and promoting social harmony. Before the holocaust, insulting cartoons were drawn dehumanizing Jews and it led to the massacre of hundreds of thousands of them. Now the extremist Cartoonists and American filmmakers have painted the Holy Prophet (sa) and the whole Ummah of Islam as terrorists. It is our responsibility to dispel the myths that are being created against the Holy Prophet (sa) and Muslims. Unfortunately, the western media defines the word freedom in terms of their culture and history. Our response, as a result, tends to be reactionary or apologetic. Don’t misunderstand me. Western civilization has made a great contribution to humanity on the foundations laid down by Greeks, Roman and Islamic societies. We must appreciate those contributions and absorb them into our culture as long as they don’t conflict with Islam. However, as Muslims and citizens of the world, we have something to offer to the western world as well. One of the things at this juncture that we can offer is to inform them about the beautiful life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (sa). But we must carry out the discussions with the rules taught to us by the Holy Prophet (sa).

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  • Shock Horror
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:25AM

    @Ayesha
    You say, ” I would advocate the same standard for those preaching hatred against Jews, Christians, Hindus or any sect of Islam in sermons after Friday prayers, for example, that I would for those preaching hatred against Muslims or Islam in the West.”

    I suggest you first get all Pakistani text books teaching hatred against Hindus, and Urdu language newspapers preaching hate on a daily basis destroyed. Furthermore as a lawyer, I am sure a very good one, you should persuade the Pakistani Supreme Court to declare that the Pakistani laws on blasphemy, and the declaration of Ahmadis as non muslims are illegal. Once you have achieved that you can start complaining about Islamophobia in the west.

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  • Sep 22, 2012 - 12:28AM

    There are double standards in the West about free speech, yes. There are double standards in Pakistan and other Islam-majority countries about free speech, yes. Also, pretty much everywhere else. Which only strengthens the fact that all arguments against it are sheer nonsense.

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  • sabi
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:36AM

    The voice of this article is my voice
    Kudos for writing such an excellant article on the current situation.
    In soft words I can say that general public in western worlds is too innocent to understand the gameplan of big bosses and the eventual aftermaths of that ugly gameplan on their societies.
    All is not good.
    RegardsRecommend

  • Mirza
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:06AM

    I strongly object to this Op Ed that has been trying to show a moderate way of thinking and acting. First of all the author did not experience a single incident of discrimination by herself. Then she based upon the words of one business lady made up her mind. This much and more discrimination is practiced everyday in most countries of the world on the basis of region, national origin or religion. It is human nature but legally the rights of everybody are protected. With my own eyes I have seen local Muslim vendors saying Namaz at the ruins of World Trade Center.
    Equating burning of cross at somebody’s home or front is a practical crime because hundreds of blacks have been burned and lynched in not too distant past. Comparing this with making a sleazy movie is ridiculous at best. First amendment does not protect people going out and doing hateful acts in public. It only protects “speech” not practice and trespassing. People have hateful sites on the Web where they spit venom but when it comes to practicing it then the FBI comes into action.
    If this shameful and sleazy 10 minutes video is so outrageous then what is stopping the US, Canadian, UAE and Saudi Muslims to peacefully demonstrate against it? We have every right to go out and peacefully show our outrage and nobody would object to that in the West. Looking at the killings, arson and looting and reaction in Pakistan and some other countries, the crazy fanatic and crazy people would make more such items so the Muslims themselves keep killing each other and burning their own property and country.

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  • varuag
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:29AM

    Every society passes through an evolutionary process and despite the shadow of globalization, it is generally the endo-genetic changes that sustain. So while the West may be ignorant of the sensitivities of others, most of the “non-West” does not fare any better in trying to decipher the West’s processes. Is there a method to what we tend to call madness ?

    The Westboro Baptist Church in USA often pickets the funerals of soldiers because it maintains that soldiers’ deaths are God’s way of punishing the USA for its tolerance of homosexuality. The protesters carry signs like “Thank God for dead soldiers”. The US Supreme Court has stated that the groups protest’s are protected by the First Amendment. The same amendment that the author is stating has “narrow exceptions”. To me this exception is pretty wide, is it not ?

    And the author correctly points to the historical reasons behind specific exceptions to free speech and expression. So the Ku Klux Klan inspired laws in US or the Holocaust denial laws in some European nations have historical reasons. Can’t stress that enough. These laws are to some degree atonement for the sins that society perpetuated on targeted communities and an insurance against bigots raising the same trouble for those targeted communities again. And all these laws resulted when considerable violence was actually perpetuated as part of an enlightened evolution. In the entire sub-continent, actual violence is perpetuated against specific communities be it Tamils of Jaffna, the Christians of Kandhamal etc. But our collective conscience isn’t rankled enough to make a specific laws for these targeted communities. Instead we want West to create exceptions in First Amendment for merely inciting our feelings where violence has not been perpetuated. That is not a tough sell, but an obnoxious one. And if West asks for changes in our Victorian-era laws, they are impeding on our sovereignty. Hypocrisy, thy name is …….

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  • Arifq
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:43AM

    Madam, what we observe today are habits that have been conditioned over centuries applicable to West and East. To expect both societies to demonstrate perfection is itself unreasonable.

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  • Sep 22, 2012 - 2:03AM

    Thank you Ayesha for your wonderful piece. I wish that those who are reacting violently against the anti-Islam stance use a different weapon to make their point. If we ignore those who are maligning Islam and Muslims they would have nothing to stand on. I agree with you that free speech is not an absolute right and that this issue definitely needs a second look. I would of course never say that there should be censorship in everything but there must be a way to stop these insensible attacks on others’ faiths. Why not sit and have a dialogue? Or why not simply agree to disagree without hurting each other’s feelings.

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  • Cautious
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:29AM

    Author is being intellectually dishonest when implying that Virginia vs Black is an example of the USA bending the “freedom of speech” rights. Quite the opposite and I suggest the author read the case before she quotes it next time.

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  • gp65
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:17AM

    Madam,
    I normally agree with your OpEds but am unable to do so today. Here is why:
    1) The person who made the movie was a Coptic Christian of Egyptian orgin. It is far more likely that making this movie was a revenge on the possible oppression he experienced in Egypt rather than the fact that he was an agent of the far right who wants to push Muslims out of USA.

    2) The line is very clearly drawn in terms of first amendment : your ights end where mine begin. Thus perjury, defamation, deceptive advertising, plagiaism, bullying and intimadtion are all kinds of speech which donot enjoy the protection of the first amendment because it is easy to identify people that it actually harms (and I do not mean just offend , I mean actually harm). Virginia vs. Black is thus not an exception at all since intimidation is not classified as free speech. The cross burning was not prevented because it would hurt the feelings of Christians – if that were so flag burning would also be banned but it is not. The cross burning had a specific significance in light of KKK’s violent history of intimidation and murder where burning a cross was intended to convey to the person that their life was in danger.

    3) It is mullahs who incite violence who are responsibile for the violence not Western countries. There are any number of yuo tube videos that show statues of Hindu Gods being destroyed by Muslims? How many riots has this caused?

    4) The Pakistani busineswoman you talked about whosebusiness was burnt certainly suffered harm and I am sure no one would justify that act as free speech. If she knew who the perpetrators were and complained to police, I am sure they would have been in jail. But I am surprised that you are able to take one incident of individual bigotry and generalise it as Islamophobia in West? I am sure you would be the first to protest if an act of terror by a Muslim was generalized to characterize Islam as a religion that sponsors terror?

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  • John B
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:21AM

    @Mirza:
    Well said. What the author forgot to mention to the readers is that the upper westside of NY city is the conclave of wealthy americans including Jews, atheists, Christians, Muslims, and students from around the world and where lot of yuppies from PAK also hang out. On the upper east side and in Queens and Jacksonville neighborhood literally PAK and Bangladesh people work together with others, do business, sell produce with the “arch enemy” Indians, take their old parents for a stroll and young muslim married couples hold hands together full of innocence of love, and share apartment complexes with others-literally everyone from this world.

    Islamaphobia is in the mind of east Asian Muslims who typically rant in the protests, mostly college kids.

    I am yet to see Bosnian Muslims, Egyptians, Palestinians, Arabs and native African American and African Muslims in this Islamaphobia mantra and protests. What is more, they don’t even worship together. Talk about islamaphobia.

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  • MilesToGo
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:28AM

    She does not live in Pakistan.

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  • Carl
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:41AM

    I live in London, and I’m afraid I just don’t see this rising tide of “Islamaphobia” in the west that you speak of.

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  • Jat
    Sep 22, 2012 - 4:46AM

    Ms Author: “…What I see instead is far more calls for the other side to “Look in your mirror”, as Thomas Friedman advised Muslims recently,..”

    I bet you look in your mirror quite a lot…

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  • gp65
    Sep 22, 2012 - 5:26AM

    @Mirza: You continue to be the voice of sanity, reason and fairness . These must be very dificult times as you see the land of your birth go down the path that it is. My thoughts are with you and thousands of Pakistanis like you (I doubt the number reaches million) who are caughti in a time warp.

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  • Sep 22, 2012 - 5:31AM

    A well-balanced article. It is good to hear moderate voices coming from liberal authors.

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  • Amir
    Sep 22, 2012 - 6:08AM

    Another blase piece by a writer good at playing the fence with tepid material.

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  • Khurram
    Sep 22, 2012 - 6:37AM

    Ayesha it is as always lively and provocative, a brilliantly written and cogently argued article. With zealous scholarship covering beautifully both sides of the argument.

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  • Amir
    Sep 22, 2012 - 8:45AM

    “Our worst fault is the preoccupation with the faults of others.” Kahlil Gibran

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  • Gary
    Sep 22, 2012 - 9:08AM

    @Mirza:
    I can’t agree with you more! I can email the pictures of local Muslim vendors saying Namaz at the ruins of World Trade Center, Union square, Mid-town, UES, LES, you name it….

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  • Sep 22, 2012 - 9:11AM

    @Sultan Ahmad:

    ” One of the things at this juncture that we can offer is to inform them(west) about the beautiful life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (sa).

    The information about the teachings of the Holy prophet are reflected in Pakistan on daily basis in Bomb blasts( including in Mosques) , honor killings, Hate speeches from Mosques and killings
    targeting the persons having faith other than specific version of Islam . Rest of the world does not know what is written in Holy Quran. It is the behavior and activities of Muslims which is presumed as the influence of religion.

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  • Rakesh
    Sep 22, 2012 - 9:36AM

    There is too much historic precedent against the argument that absolute freedom of expression may somewhat not be good enough for the progress of humanity and needs some curtailing.

    I think the best way for muslims to deal with this is to demonstrate – as peacefully as one could – using arguments that what has happened by means of this video and the cartoons etc. is not ‘free speech’ but ‘hate speech’. And that, there is a difference between the two.Recommend

  • antanu g
    Sep 22, 2012 - 11:19AM

    @Cautious:
    fine.. ..but what about speaking against holocaust. occurence or its authenticity? please don’t gloss over the wrongs done by west. ..author is couragious enough to accept existence of many evils in her society and you should also show some honesty to accept the western wrongdoings. once this honesty is displayed.. .things will change dramaticallyRecommend

  • Tahir
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:06PM

    A 2005 U.S. governmental report defines antisemitism as “hatred toward Jews—individually and as a group—that can be attributed to the Jewish religion and/or ethnicity.”
    Antisemitism may be manifested in many ways, ranging from expressions of hatred of or discrimination against individual Jews to organized violent attacks by mobs, state police, or even military attacks on entire Jewish communities.
    If that be the case, how could one differentiate between what people call antisemitism and ongoing blasphemies against Islam? There are two broad options to address this discrepancy:-
    1. Abolish antisemitism theory and let everyone one spread hatred towards one another. The World will indeed become a “better” place then.
    2. Rethink on First Amendment to the US Constitution and define boundaries / lay down restrictions on “freedom of speech” clause and make efforts to transform this World into a “truly better” World.

    Author’s effort is indeed appreciated.

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  • Tahir
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:16PM

    ….and yes! Pamela Geller’s effort to promote inter-faith harmony through ads that will run in 10 subway stations in NYC-thanks to First Amendment, is indeed a highly appreciable act. Please accept heartiest felicitations from across the Muslim World!

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  • Sultan Ahmad
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:46PM

    @ p r sharma
    I don’t want to go into the discussion that the behaviour of people in Pakistan is Islamic or not but would like to put a “tradition” of our beloved Holy Prophet Muhamamd to educate you at least. After reading this tradition I leave the decision at your choice:

    One a Bedouin pulled a cloak which had a thick border that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had on so hard that the border left mark on his neck. He then said ‘O Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) out of the goods that God has given you, have some loaded on my camels because neither you will give out of your wealth nor from the wealth of your father.’ Initially the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) kept quiet. He then said that [all] wealth was God’s and he was God’s servant. He then said that the Bedouin would be retaliated for the pain he had caused him. The Bedouin replied, no. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) asked why not. The Bedouin replied, ‘because you do not react to badness with badness.’ This made the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) laugh and he asked for barley and dates to be loaded on the Bedouin’s camels.

    Such was his deportment with friends and foes. Yet the objectors make their objections without any knowledge and say that the Holy Prophet, Mercy for all the worlds (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was severe.

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  • Zuulfiqar Ali
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:41PM

    Very well written. the specific behind all this propaganda has been clearly mentioned. I think the movie will leave greater impact the upcoming US presidential Elections.
    Indeed, a balanced and peace-loving article.

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  • Bill Maher (LAX)
    Sep 22, 2012 - 1:45PM

    @Author:
    I doubt if you read or understood Virginia vs Black.

    Free speech is not absolute. it is an inalienable right. One that can not be taken away from anyone and can not be given away by an individual. I hope you understand the difference. It is right up there with right of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

    And a fact: US does not have a law against denying holocaust.

    Noble, effort, short on facts.
    ..pc

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  • Thoughtful
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:17PM

    @antanu g:
    Holocaust denial is not illegal in the US.

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  • Rajesh
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:25PM

    So long as the Muslim world continues to look at the wider world through the prism of Muslims/Non-Muslims and its dealing with non-Muslims on the basis of texts of Quran instead of rationality, it will have to continue to look into the mirror more frequently than others.

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  • TheChimera
    Sep 22, 2012 - 2:46PM

    It is a blatant lie when you claim that some Moslem owne’d shop was burnt in the aftermath odf 9/11. Americans are not bigots ; and to their credit and the civilizatin they represent, there was not a single act of violence agianst the Moslems in USA relating to 9/11..

    As for our First Amendment rights, it has stood the test of time over two centuries. It is fine as it is and the last we need is a lecture from Pakistani as to why it needs to be mended. Recommend

  • Al Mulhid
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:03PM

    Free Speech is about telling the truth. Do not slander people’s faith but tell the truth.
    The truth about Islam can be found in the Qur’an, the sahih ahadith (Bukhari and Muslim), the Sira of Muhammad ibn Ishaq, the Sunan Abu Daud, The Muwatta of Malik ibn Annas, the Tafsir al Jalalayn, the hadith of ibn Majah, Tabari’s Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab al Tabaqat, the Umdat al Salik (The Reliance of the Traveller).These works are available in English translation.
    As long as you quote meticulously from these sources you cannot provoke very sensitive people.

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  • Ali
    Sep 22, 2012 - 3:39PM

    Free Speech is just as a hoax of a concept as Free energy or a perpetual machine.
    So if Speech is to be allowed for people their expression it should be expression of their views on issues it should be allowed with responsibility and consideration of others people. because teasing Muslims about our Prophet will only give Americans more terrorists and terrorists will give Muslims more absurd Rednecks having no purpose life get some kicks by picking on Muslims on this issue.
    So i Would request to Governments of all countries to put a leash on your strays !! before it comes to World war 3Recommend

  • Irfan Ashraf
    Sep 22, 2012 - 4:30PM

    Not a single retail outlet belonging to Muslims or any other faith was torched in NY after 9/11. The writer should provide proof of such instances.

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  • abhi
    Sep 22, 2012 - 4:35PM

    @tahir

    i think you have serious problem in understanding what hate speech is. telling on TV that it is ok to kill some people based on religion is hate speech. Making fun of historical personalities is not hate speech.

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  • Salma
    Sep 22, 2012 - 4:44PM

    Excellent piece Ayesha- the apple and oranges merry go round just shows we have no one to turn to – so thanks for writing this atleast there is some sanity as well as courage left amidst the rage to out do each other in toeing the line of the west – or perhaps from fear of being unlabelled – i.e. the liberal.Bravo to you and more power to your pe

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  • G. Din
    Sep 22, 2012 - 5:02PM

    I suggest you don’t take Tom Friedman’s advice “Look in the mirror”. You may not have the stomach for the revulsion you will experience at looking at the image therein!

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  • Sep 22, 2012 - 5:08PM

    I thought that the pen was mightier than the sward. Can any one stand and state they are mature and have enough knowledgeable re Bible and Apocrypha in order to write a deserting note and perchance set forth the lecture on YouTube? Yes there are claims that I have read Bible but the claim is essentially a polemic reading and dissemination of so called findings in favor of their religion. Indeed Muhammad (pbuh) grand father a polytheist was a better man, who when told that Jewish army was some 10 miles away said evacuate. This did not sit well with the Arab tribes who said how can you abandon God’s home for to be cursed to the end of times we will be not cursed. To which the Gentleman’s reply hold the truth of all religions. He stated let God save his own house and Muslims burned Kaaba 4 times during their rule. Now who will pay for the dead in the land of hypocrites and illiterates.

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  • mind control
    Sep 22, 2012 - 5:15PM

    @Ayesha Ijaz Khan

    What I see instead is far more calls for the other side to “Look in your mirror”, as Thomas Friedman advised Muslims recently, but very little inclination to do so oneself.

    Let us peep into the mirror together,

    A. My mirror shows citizens with equal rights. Does yours?

    B. My mirror shows Textbooks free of hate. Does yours?

    C. My mirror shows a handful of deviants. Does yours?

    D. My mirror shows these deviants being punished. Does yours?

    E. Does the ‘Islamophobic West’ in your mirror, demand renunciation of your religious beliefs before issuing you a passport?

    CRRACKKKK, The mirror just broke.

    Perspective Please. How is Constitutionally sanctioned, Institutionalised, Officially promoted oppression comparable to the action of private citizens?

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  • Arjun
    Sep 22, 2012 - 5:19PM

    You don’t have a right to not be offended. Get over it…

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  • Begram
    Sep 22, 2012 - 7:28PM

    Really not liking this piece.
    This stupid movie: it is like scary movie is to scream. After seeing a three minute trailer i would not watch it because this type of over the top distortion caricature does not appeal to me. Does it make me want to kill anyone, no. Do I think he had the right to make it? Sure if he had the required permits to make a movie in the us.
    Freedom of speech: this is a key precept for he Americans. Why should they be forced to change it for people in Pakistan. You cannot equate this to the holocaust law since that punishes people in light of a Factual reality. You are as free to make rude and obscene on Moses and abraham as for any other religious figure. You should check out the onions satire piece “no one was murdered because of this image”. That pushes all boundaries and I don’t see any riots due to it.
    Islamophobia: it may well be on the rise, but Muslims do nothing to allay or counter it. Muslim countries are always in the news for the wrong reasons, the poor Muslim population is increasing without any regards to resource availibility or economics, we DO NOT extend the same freedoms in our countries that we take for granted in all the countries that we wish to wage war on.

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  • Salma
    Sep 22, 2012 - 7:29PM

    @mindcontrol ur mirror is only good for your citizens – not for the terror your state leashes out at others who are not your citizens. What do u call please name it if you claim you are nurtured into being honest by your text books? not to talk of that your mirror is not showing you your lawlessenss, violation of human rights and the havoc you are playing in the rest of the world! The mirror is seriously defected as it can’t see its whole view..

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  • Wipe Out
    Sep 22, 2012 - 7:56PM

    I don’t believe the story of the threading-lady’s business being burnt in New York. Hate crimes of that magnitude are not common and they make the news when they occur. There have been a few incidents of spray paint and minor vandalism of mosques in New York and these made it to the news. Surely a case of all out arson would make the news.

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  • Imran Con
    Sep 22, 2012 - 8:33PM

    @Salma:
    You obviously believe you have the right to play the victim and raise tissue paper stocks through exaggeration. Have fun with that.
    Please. You act like you’re exception to the rule of living in the real world where not everyone agrees, everyone is perfect, there are never misunderstandings and plain exceptions of idiocy in history. Why not develop your own character into someone who can really see the big picture, and not just the parts that inconvenience you. Pakistan is like the cry baby that people tried to console at one time but everyone finally realized it’s determined to seek attention through tears and just stopped caring.

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  • Masood Khan
    Sep 22, 2012 - 9:10PM

    1, Internet is full of such crap for every religion, why we don’t protest everyday. No one knew about this movie until some people with specific agenda started protesting against it. In a way they forced even unconcerned people to watch the same. Same is applicable for cartoons; several months after the publication it was a group of few south-Asian/Arab origin people probably from Sweden who visited Muslim countries and incited the outrage. Cartoons which were once buried as yesterday’ newspaper were live and viewed across the globe, thanks to people who perhaps unknowingly worked for their propagation. 2, An isolated incident in NY can’t make a sustainable argument, there are hundreds of thousands of Muslims in the US very well placed in jobs & businesses. Yesterday I bought some grocery from a supermarket in Saudi, the local cashier refused to put my grocery in bag, I simply stood there to see what happens to next customer after me. His grocery was immediately packed because he was a local. What do you call this? 3, Yesterday’ criminal acts across Pakistan, burning, ransacking & looting show how much dear is the cause for which there is so much noise.

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  • antanu g
    Sep 22, 2012 - 9:17PM

    @Thoughtful:
    I am talking about entire west.. .don’t give insane excusesRecommend

  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Sep 22, 2012 - 9:48PM

    Islamophobia in west is due to doings of Muslim and not that of west. Muslims go to west and ask them to accept as they are but with the same token refuse to accept the local as they are. They will make comments like “I am not like them’. In summer when everyone in west is shedding clothes Muslim women are covered from head to toe in black.

    Another example Muslim students in a university asked for a space for Friday prayers. University was more than happy to provide space for two hrs. Now Muslims wanted this room to be divided in two one side for male and the other for female worshipers. University provided them with room dividers. It was not acceptable to students as they wanted University to divide the room permanently as it is done in a mosque. University refused because space is limited and permanent alteration will make this room useless for rest of the week. This incidence led to bad mouthing of Muslims for years. Now you tell me who was unreasonable party in this example. Recommend

  • arcane
    Sep 22, 2012 - 11:25PM

    I wonder why Muslims choose to live in western world? why dont they move to Muslim countries where their values are respected, as a matter of fact it is not encouraged in Islamic traditions to make a living through forbidden practices as Interest, Gambling, prostitution etcc It’s shame that Muslim Govts throughout Arab world dont even give you a work permit let alone citizenship.

    Freedom of Speech is the fundamental difference between Shariah and Democracy, I wonder how many Muslims who are outraged today practice their faith properly?

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  • mind control
    Sep 22, 2012 - 11:57PM

    @Salma:

    ur mirror is only good for your citizens – not for the terror your state leashes out at others who are not your citizens.

    Well I am asking you to see your citizens in the mirror too. I am not asking you to see Martians.

    Now, think of Ahmadis and read my comments about the passport again.

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  • gp65
    Sep 23, 2012 - 12:08AM

    @antanu g: “@Thoughtful:
    I am talking about entire west.. .don’t give insane excuses”
    “Entire WEst is irrelevan since th movie was not made in ‘entire West’ nor was it uploaded in ‘Entire West’.Both actions happened in USA where they were legal and where hey also do not have holocaust denial laws.

    Secondly holocaust denial laws were instituted by Germany for protection of minorities and prevention of a recurrence of a horror for which they take ownership and want to atone. There are o laws preventing anyone from questioning or criticizing Judaism or Christianity or any other religion. To compare those with blasphemy laws is false equivalence because the anti-blasphemy laws in Muslim countries only protects the faith of Muslims not the other religions and in fact is used to torment minorities.

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  • Sep 23, 2012 - 6:05AM

    Sure I was, that you will not put my comments on board because it had the words “two nation theory” You like it or not this theory is the mother of destruction and today on extended application of this theory Muslims are killing Muslims in Pakistan. I think Aghakahanis have disappeared.

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  • Jat
    Sep 23, 2012 - 7:01PM

    Just a pretty face getting more attention/comments than what was warranted from the quality of article…

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  • Sep 25, 2012 - 8:35AM

    @VINOD: I appreciate. This is the the true spirit of projecting all views based on reason.

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  • Cynical
    Oct 12, 2012 - 9:44PM

    @mind control

    You made my day.
    The questionnaire is brief and to the point, and
    “Perspective Please. How is Constitutionally sanctioned, Institutionalised, Officially promoted oppression comparable to the action of private citizens?”

    is the icing on the cake.

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