Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freedom Of Religion - Islam Film And Self - Censorship - Bbc News

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Continue reading the main story Anti-Islam film protests

Diplomat danger

Libyans speak out

The appearance on Youtube of an anti-Islam film produced in the US has sparked protests and attacks across parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, in which more than 28 people have died.

The furore has prompted debate about balancing freedom of speech with freedom of religion .

Should self-censorship and regulation be imposed in order to appease the sensitivities of religious groups?

A selection of analysts give their views:

Ed Husain, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies, US Council on Foreign Relations, and author of The Islamist.

I am a Muslim. I am a Westerner. I see no contradictions in being both.

We reached this stage of our history by ending the control of the Catholic church on what could and could not be said or written in public. So-called heretics were killed at the stake to help secure freedom of religion , thought, and expression. These freedoms are sacrosanct to me.

It is this history of Christian Protestant bravery that led to the creation of pluralist and secular societies in the West, allowing for the first time in history for Muslims and Jews to settle there in large numbers - we were free to practice our religions freely. The barbarity of pogroms, witch-hunting, and burning heretics ended.

My fellow Muslims must understand this backstory. We cannot trample on the very freedoms that allow us to thrive as Muslims. Yes, it hurts when the Prophet is insulted. From Shakespeare to Thomas Paine, western literature is full of negative references to Muslims as Moors, Turks, and followers of Mahomet.

Similarly, classical Arabic and Persian writings are replete with anti-Semitism and denial of Christ's divinity as the son of God. Yet, it is a remarkable feat that we in the West have accommodated all faiths and no faith.

This achievement cannot be reversed. Self-censorship is to reverse the gains made by our intellectual forefathers.

Just as Muslims are free in the West, Christians and other dissenters must be free in the East.

We Muslims killed some of our best luminaries because of clerical accusations of heresy, absence of freedom of thought.

Jane Kinninmont, senior research fellow, Chatham House Malise Ruthven, author, Islam in the World and Fundamentalism - A Very Short Introduction Jillian York, director of International Freedom of Expression, Electronic Frontier Foundation Elmar Brok, German member of European Parliament and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs

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