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October 2012 eGazette – Freedom of Speech or License to Abuse?

Al Islam eGazette

Friday Sermon Sept 21, 2012: True Love for The Holy Prophet (saw)

Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih began his Friday sermon by reciting the following verses of the Holy Qur’an. The translation reads:

‘Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! you also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace.

Verily, those who annoy Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them an abasing punishment.’ (33:57 – 58)

These days an intense wave of indignation has swept through the Muslim world; in Muslims countries as well as among Muslims living in different countries of the world in response to an extremely crude and offensive act of anti-Islam elements. Indeed, Muslims are justified in this. Whether or not a Muslim has proper insight of the real station of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), he is ready to give his life for his respect and honour. Indignation of every Muslim is natural at the crude and offensive film made about the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and the wicked way in which affront has been directed at him in it. He, who was a benefactor of humanity, mercy for all the worlds and beloved of God and who stayed awake at nights in his sorrow for humanity, who expressed so much anguish to save humanity that God in the heavens said: ‘So haply thou wilt grieve thyself to death for sorrow after them if they believe not in this discourse.’ (18:7)

The extremely insulting film about this great benefactor of humanity was surely going to make a Muslim’s heart bleed and it did. And more than anyone, it pained Ahmadi Muslims for we are the followers of the true and ardent devotee of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who gave us the insight and perception of the great station of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Our hearts are torn at this gross act and we are extremely hurt and wounded. We prostrate before God to contend with the perpetrators and make them a cautionary sign that would last till the end of the world.

The perception that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) gave us is thus; he wrote: ‘Muslims are those people, who give their lives for the honour of their noble Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Death is their preference to the dishonour in genuinely reconciling with such people and becoming their friends whose task is to day and night verbally abuse their Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and cite his name extremely insultingly in their magazines, books and advertisements and mention him in utterly degrading words. Remember, such individuals are also not the well-wishers of their own people because they create impediments in their way. I say most truthfully that it is possible that we may reconcile with wild snakes and wilderness beasts, but we cannot reconcile with those people who do not desist from insulting the honour of God’s holy Prophets. They think that there is triumph in abusive language and vulgarity but each triumph comes from the heavens. Through the blessing of their pure discourse, those with pure speech ultimately win hearts and minds whereas those of wicked nature have no other skill other than creating discord and conflict in the land in a disorderly way…Experience also bears witness that the ending of such offensive people is not good. The sense of honour of God ultimately comes to pass for His beloveds.’ (Chashma Ma’rafat, Ruhani Khaza’in, Vol. 23, pp. 386 – 387)

These days apart from magazines and advertisements other mediums are also used for this vulgarity. Out of their stubbornness these people are contending with God. InshaAllah, they will come under His chastisement. In their obstinacy they continue to perpetrate their excesses. When in 2006 wicked natured people in Denmark made vulgar caricatures of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) while Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih drew the attention of the Jama’at to demonstrate appropriate reaction, he had also said that these people will not stop here and will continue to perpetrate such acts in future. Today we observe that they have resorted to greater vulgarity and meanness. It is their defeat against Islam that is forcing them to be offensive in the name of freedom of speech. As the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said, they are not even the well-wishers of their own people. It will one day be unfolded to them all that what they are doing is in fact harmful for them. These people are mean and selfish.

Right now in the name of freedom of speech politicians and others, in places openly and in places discreetly, are speaking up for these people; some are also speaking up for the Muslims. But it should be remembered that this world is now like a global village and if wickedness is not openly called wickedness, these matters can also destroy the peace of these countries. It should be remembered what the Imam of the age said; that every triumph comes from the heavens and the heavens have decided that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) whom they are insulting will triumph in the world and he will triumph by winning hearts and minds because pure discourse is effective and it does not require extremist measures or to respond to vulgarity with vulgarity. God will deal with these perpetrators in the next life.

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Anti-jihad ads reminiscent of McCarthyism, 1950s fear mongering

By Mike Honda

Source: Washington Post


Congressman Mike Honda

This week felt like a throwback to the 1950s, to McCarthyism and fear mongering. I, and countless others, spoke out in defense of Muslim Americans who were feeling attacked by ads on New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. public transit systems that compared Muslims to “savages”. Physical safety was of serious concern for many Muslim Americans, which is why the three transit authorities appropriately delayed or declined the ads, later to be court-ordered into running the ads.

What happened next is what alarms me most. Anyone who stepped up to defend fellow Muslim Americans was deemed by the ads’ sponsors as the “enemy.” I’ve heard this accusation before, except when I was much younger, growing up in Colorado in a Japanese internment camp.

This is what the ad says: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad.” The logical and reasonable inferences here are the following: jihad (read: Muslim, due to etymology) equals savage. Muslims, thus, are savages.

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Since 2001, U.S. Congressman Mike Honda has represented California’s 15th Congressional District, which includes western San Jose and Silicon Valley.


Love thy Neighbor is a Christian Value, Hate and Stereotyping aren’t

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34)

In presence of these clear teachings by Jesus Christ, no believing Christian can condone hate speech against his or her neighbors. Even those who are agnostic and atheist, in the West, often consider Jesus to be a good teacher of moral values, so, in a way this biblical message, in the Gospel of Mark, has a universal appeal. Hillel, a Jewish scholar, was a teacher and a founder of a school (Beit Hillel) in the first century B.C.E. Hillel was born in Babylonia. At age forty, he went to live in Jerusalem. There he became the spiritual leader (Nasi) of the Jews from about 30 B.C.E to 10 C.E. When asked by a non-Jew to relate all the Torah had to say while standing on one foot, Hillel replied, “Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do until you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.” No one likes hate speech against him or her, especially if it begins to take hold and creates possibility of discrimination, hatred, mayhem and murder. No wonder there are laws against hate speech, against antisemitism and even against holocaust denial. Most Muslims, living in the West are peace loving and have moderate views towards their fellow citizens and are worried about the recent anti-Islam film and negative ads in New York subways and hate speech against them, which is finding some roots in the Western countries, in one form or the other.

How could the Christians hate the Muslims and be brotherly towards the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Jews and atheists, while the Muslims honor Jesus to be an honorable prophet, consider belief in him as part of their essential beliefs, take his mother the chaste Mary as a role model, as described in the Holy Quran and notice all the time that a chapter is named after Mother Mary in the Quran and realize that his name appears more often in the Holy Quran than the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself, and all the other religions regard Jesus as a liar, a non-entity or have no opinion about him? Does it make sense? It is self evident that those who hate monger against the Muslims are not well wishers of Islam or the 1.5 billion Muslims, but, are they well wishers of the Christians, leading them into a world of contradictions and chaos?

Your friend and family can contact you through email within a few seconds from the remotest corners of our global village. If a disaster strikes any part of Africa, Australia or Galapagos, we hear about it instantaneously. So, in the context of our global village each and every homo-sapiens is a neighbor! I believe, that is exactly what Jesus would say if he were to come back!

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A Critique of President Obama’s UN Speech

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD

First of all, let me applaud our great country, USA, it gives us freedoms, for an ordinary citizen like me, without any elaborate titles or offices, to make the title of my article, A Critique of President Obama’s UN Speech. In older times in many city states, such an endeavor could have been labeled as treason, punishable by death sentence. I am very glad to be living in the present times, as I can, from the comfort and security of my home and sofa-seat, opine safely, about President’s speech and have possibly thousands, if not millions, of open minded readers, who do not have to hide, what they are reading.

President Barrack Obama condemned the notorious and hateful anti-Islam film in his recent address in the United Nations General Assembly in the following words:

“At time, the conflicts arise along the fault lines of race or tribe, and often they arise from the difficulties of reconciling tradition and faith with the diversity and interdependence of the modern world. In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening. In every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they’re willing to tolerate freedom for others.

And that is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, where a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well.

For as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country. We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe.”

The Muslim Times applauds President Obama for his open and candid response. The President also espoused the importance of free speech in the following words:

“Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As president of our country, and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day, and I will always defend their right to do so.

Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views – even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do so not because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened.

We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities. We do so because, given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech – the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech. We recognize that. But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.”

I agree with much that the President has said and I also acknowledge that much of the progress of our beloved country USA is due to the freedoms that we have, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But, we should also acknowledge that there are public decency laws in many liberal European countries and USA to protect children from explicit material; laws against insulting the Queen in England; and laws against insulting Jews, gays, blacks, women and indigenous people, and last but not the least, laws against denying holocaust, then it’s obvious that freedom of expression has limits, even in the “free” world, and that the Founders of our great religions of this world should not be any less respected than the Queen of England or the gays and the lesbians.

Every reader can tell from the reading of this article that I am respectfully taking an exception to one of the observations that the President Obama made, but, I am not insulting or defaming him. The point being that usually it is easy to know the difference between “free speech” and hate speech. The public at large should uphold free speech, but, condemn hate speech in any discourse, be it political or religious.

In line with a recent message of His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, ‘The Law about Freedom of Speech is not Heavenly Scripture or the Gospel Truth!’ I want to say and appeal, in the court of public opinion, that I am afraid that unfettered freedom of hateful speech against the Muslims and its Founder, Muhammad, may peace be on him, will ultimately limit the rights, freedoms and security of the Muslims not only in USA but also other countries. We need to go no further than to look at the history of slavery in our own country. Prof. Jeannine Bell, of Maurer School of Law, wrote in Restraining the Heartless: Racist Speech and Minority Rights, in Indiana Law Journal 84 (2009), 963-79; as she defined the risks of unfettered free speech leading to discrimination and racism. She was arguing against the display of Confederate flag, which has come to symbolize slavery and oppression, in USA:


“Insofar as the Confederate flag is representative of a social order in which people of color are of comparable status to property, its display creates an untenable atmosphere of racial intolerance. Though the First Amendment is explicit in guaranteeing the right to free expression, hate speech which serves to promote violence towards a particular group or individual is acknowledged to fall outside the boundaries of Constitutional protection. Any interpretation which would seek to narrow the definition of hate speech to only encompass direct exhortations to violence “fails to acknowledge that White supremacists’ racist ideology blames racial and ethnic minorities for all of society’s ills. When demagogues and leaders of hate groups use racist and hateful propaganda, they are seeking followers whose attachment to the organization is premised on seeing members of outgroups as less than human. Once minorities are assumed to be subhuman, there is no longer any reason not to eliminate them by attacking them physically.”

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The World Muslim Leader: ‘The Law about Freedom of Speech is not Heavenly Scripture or the Gospel Truth!’


Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD

The recent notoriety of an anti-Islam film, all over the world, has drawn various reactions from people of all walks of life. His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Head of the Worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, devoted his last two Friday Sermons in London to issues related to this, on September 21 and September 28, 2012. He expressed his concern over such inappropriate, divisive and derisive use of freedom of speech and highlighted, how hurtful and abusive the ‘free speech,’ of this anti-Islam film is to the sentiments of the 1.5 billion Muslims. He outlined the response for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to this tragedy and added that we have never resorted to violence and never will. He stressed, “Our main response will be peaceful dissemination of the biography and grandeur of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him.” This writing is to fulfill his vision and my understanding of the message of His Holiness, ‘The Law about Freedom of Speech is not Heavenly Scripture or the Gospel Truth!’ Let me urge all readers, in the very beginning, in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, a 16th century British philosopher, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”

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October 2012


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Sixth Circuit: ‘Michigan Can Ban Anti-Islam Ads from Buses’

Source: WSJ

By Joe Palazzolo

Michigan

Does First Amendment protect our right to say what we want in advertisements on the side of a city bus?

Yes and no.

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that a Michigan transit authority could bar from the side of its buses an advertisement that read: “Fatwa on your head? Is your family or community threatening you? Leaving Islam? Got Questions? Get Answers! RefugefromIslam.com”

The group behind the ads is the the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which describes its mission as acting “against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials, the mainstream media, and others in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

The group had sought in 2010 to place the ads on the buses in Michigan’s four southeastern-most counties, but the authority refused, on the grounds that the ads violated a policy against political advertisements and offensive speech.

AFDI sued, claiming First Amendment violations, and won. A federal district judge ruled in March 2011 that the ad policy gave inadequate guidance on what was permissible. The court noted, for instance, that the authority had allowed an atheist group to advertise on the buses.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit said Thursday said that the side of the bus, in this case, wasn’t a public forum because the transit authority – Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART – rejected all political advertisements. The state never opened the space for discourse.

Once SMART established that the space on the buses was a nonpublic forum, it could ban political speech, as long as it did so in a “reasonable and viewpoint neutral” way. The Sixth Circuit held that it did.

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Is hate speech a right?

Source: Times of Malta

By Laiq Ahmed Atif

Freedom of speech, expression and conscience is a noble value and is vital to spread a message and to restore the dignity of man. Freedom of speech is also a pillar of democracy. Moreover, such freedom is both essential and crucial for a society to register progress.

Thus, such freedom should not be compromised and people should not be deprived of this basic and fundamental human right.

I also believe that one must be very responsible when practising this freedom. And, as the world has become a global village, it is very important for the greater benefit and the common good of the entire world that we all consider the sensitivities of the immense diversity and pluralism in our global village when practising this right for free speech.

According to Wikipedia, “freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used”.

It is very important that we must differentiate between freedom of speech and vulgarity, indecency and hate speech. And we must not forget that any irrational and insensitive action when practising freedom of speech can be exploited by fundamentalists and terrorists who are always there to destroy the peace of our global society.

So, a huge responsibility lies on our shoulders as a global family when freedom of speech comes into play.

Unfortunately, we find many cases around the world where freedom of speech and expression is grossly misused and abused and there are many who would want to make this an absolute and unquestionable right. Of course, it is not possible to take everything as an absolute and humans enjoy no right that is totally unconditional.

Wikipedia states: “In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example, inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation and incitement to commit a crime”.

The recent notorious case of an anti-Islam film and caricatures of Prophet Muhammed attracted different reactions from people from all walks of life and were condemned by many, including by US President Barack Obama, who said: “I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims but America as well.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said: “My position is that freedom of expression, while it is a fundamental right and privilege, should not be abused by such people, by such a disgraceful and shameful act”.

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