Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Another good article by the prolific commentator Sunny Hundal (Pickled Politics, Asians in Media, the New Generation Network and various other projects) on The Guardian's Comment-is-Free (Cif): Muslims should embrace free speech. Some religious groups may instinctively want to censor ridicule of their faith. But it harms them in the longer term, he argues. The article ends:

"[R]eligious minorities aren't the only ones who misunderstand free speech and expression. It isn't uncommon for readers on Cif and elsewhere to demand that the niqab be banned because it offends them. Similarly, I recall Brownie on Harry's Place calling for Neil Clark's article on Cif to be censored; and Norm Geras saying Columbia University should never have invited President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently. I find it amusing when people are happy for the BNP to make idiots of themselves in the media, but not others.

"I understand that many Muslims feel under attack right now, given that xenophobic attacks on them have become commonplace. The problem is that most people don't think logically; they think emotionally. While Jews and Christians have become more politically astute in realising that creating a stink only backfires in their faces, most Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims are woefully immature in this regard. Free speech is especially important for minority groups because when there is a crackdown through legislation on 'unpopular' thoughts, it usually affects them disproportionately. It's about time they realised this."

Frankly, I'm not sure that many Christians have grasped the free speech message with much maturity, either. Just over a year ago I suggested why the churches and Christian campaigning groups need to be challenged practically and theologically on this issue. See also the Ekklesia paper: Rethinking hate speech, blasphemy and free expression from the time of the promulgation of legislation on the topic.

No comments: