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Americans Mistaken to Buckle Under on Free Speech (DE TIJD, Belgium)

 

"Free expression is at times quite unsavory and leaves a bitter aftertaste. But the strength of the West, and preeminently the U.S., demonstrates that free speech leads to a free society. In this case, the concern of the United States is understandable. Their troops on the ground are confronted with this violence. But it is extremely clumsy to respond to it with a request for censorship."

 

By Jean Vanempten

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Translated By Marion Pini

 

September 20, 2012

 

Belgium - DE TIJD - Original Article (Dutch)

Muslims in Hyderabad, India, walk over U.S. flags to express displeasure over the now widely-known film trailer of 'Innocence of Muslims.'

RUSSIA TODAY VIDEO: Muslim mayhem mounts; should the United States 'go home'?, September 19, 00:17:46RealVideo

Where does the sowing of hatred and incitement to violence start and freedom of speech end? A ridiculous movie on YouTube, Innocence of Muslims, caused worldwide riots from Benghazi to Borgerhout [Belgium], because of the insulting nature of the film. It is not the first time that there have been strong reactions to real or alleged attacks on Islam, but it is the White House that has kick-started a debate on free speech.

 

The White House’s request to Google, the Internet company that owns YouTube, to take down the video in question, didn't go down well. The request didn't obligate the company to act and therefore Google simply ignored it - although in some countries, access was (temporarily) prohibited and in others is was blocked completely. Google rightly considers that the U.S. government should not interfere with the film and that in any case, it is not inconsistent with the rules of the company. There is no incitement to personal hate or violence. The criticism in the film is general. The fact that it is tacky and silly is beside the point here.

 

Freedom of speech is a difficult concept. It is easy to defend if you agree with the thrust of the criticism; it is a lot harder when it runs directly counter to your own convictions.

 

It is certain that the video in question has been prostituted by certain groups to stir the masses and incite violence. But that has more to do with the climate in these countries and the appeals of such groups who want to riot, and which often put popular ignorance to use to sweep them along.

 

 

 

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The U.S. government, which puts a high priority on freedom of speech when it comes to problems abroad, is often very strict when it comes to defending their own interests. The death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya is a terrible thing, but it is not YouTube or even the film that caused it. It is the Salafist organizations that executed a calculated attack.

 

Giving in to groups who want to cause anxiety (and more), is not a good idea. Moreover, with its request, the U.S. government is giving the impression that it can control freedom of expression in America. That is exactly the wrong signal to send groups who would rather leave people in the dark.

 

Freedom of expression is at times quite unsavory and leaves a bitter aftertaste. But the strength of the West, and preeminently the U.S., demonstrates that free speech leads to a free society. In this case, the concern of the United States is understandable. Their troops on the ground are confronted with this violence. But it is extremely clumsy to respond to it with a request for censorship.

Posted by Worldmeets.US

 

In the Muslim world there is a movement that strongly opposes the Western world and Western values. They often feel pushed in a corner and are quick to feel insulted. This in turn has resulted in a similarly strong anti-Islamic movement in the West. In this arena, it is often the free and independent opinion on both sides that is victimized.

 

If free speech is no longer possible, then neither is dialogue. To give in to the violence only serves to silence justified criticism. While it may be that this is how dictatorships manage to flourish, it is a path that open and democratic countries must not follow. 

 

SEE ALSO ON THIS:
Der Standard, Austria: For Now at Least, it's Lose-Lose for the U.S. in the Muslim World
Al Watan, Libya: If the Prophet Can be Insulted, then the Holocaust can be Questioned
Le Quotidien d’Oran, Algeria: Why Insulting the Prophet Always 'Pays Off Big'
Der Spiegel, Germany: Muslim Protests Show Limits of Free Speech
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: Islam in Turmoil: Religion as 'Ersatz-Identity'
Al Watan, Libya: Libyan Fatwa Court Calls Attack on Americans an 'Offense to Islam'
The Independent, U.K.: Obama's Foreign Policy of Reconciliation Lies in 'Tatters'
Die Zeit, Germany: Romney's 'Nostalgia' Ill-Suited to Reality of Fast-Changing World
Die Tageszeitung, Germany: Muslim Unrest Raises Stakes of U.S. Election Even Higher
Independent, U.K.: 'Inside Story' of U.S. Envoy's Assassination
Global Times, China:
America is 'Disrespectful' of Other Cultures
Daily Star, Lebanon: Influential Lebanon MP Says Israel Backed Film to Defeat Obama
Debka File, Israel: Al-Qaeda Chief Zawahri 'Personally Ordered' Murder of U.S. Envoy
Independent, U.K.: 'Provocateurs' East and West Know: Politics and Religion Don't Mix ’
Telegraph, U.K.: Arab Spring Turns Sour for United States
Telegraph, U.K.: Ambassador Chris Stevens: Man of Drive, Passion
Independent, U.K.: Fear and Loathing: Another Unholy Row about Islam
Guardian, U.K.: Attack in Libya Underlines Threat of Salafi Islamists
Global Times, China: America ‘Disqualified’ as Global Human Rights Judge
Xinhua, China: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2011
Rodong Sinmun, North Korea: America by Far World’s Leading Human Rights Abuser
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: Putin is Mistaken to Favor China Over the United States
Huanqiu, China: U.S. Should Keep its Nuclear Weapons Away from Koreas
Guardian, U.K.: It Should Have Been Clear - Deposing Qaddafi was the Easy Part

 

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[Posted by Worldmeets.US Sept. 20, 9:59pm]

 

 

 

 







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