Freedom Of Speech Or Feelings Of The Believers?

Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack

Charlie Hebdo is a French weekly satirical magazine which is famous for publishing ironic cartoons that mock politics and religion. The magazine editors and cartoonists describe themselves as atheist, secular, anti-racist and left wing. Charlie Hebdo is notorious for publishing ironic and vulgar dark humor cartoons which concern holy sites and prophets of both Christianity and Islam. Due to the freedom of speech, however, the magazine was free to express their opinion and position on a range of issues.

Cartoon Crisis

In 2012 the magazine drew cartoons which depicted the scandalous “Innocence of Muslims” film. Islamic fundamentalists began violent protests around the whole world. Their outrageous protesting methods included raids, assaults, arsons and riots, which lead to the injury of 700 people and death of over 50 innocents.

Countries in which the protests occurred were:

  • Egypt
  • Yemen
  • Sudan
  • Pakistan
  • Afghanistan

Aggressive actions by Muslims caused serious consequences, not only in terms of lives lost, but in terms of policies as well.

The 2015 Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack

The terrorist attack occurred only in a few hours after the magazine published cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad and the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Two Islamic extremists slaughtered 12 people, in an armed assault right in the editorial office of the magazine. The tragedy resulted in a series of protests through the entire France. The rallies were attended by approximately 3.7 million people, which makes them the largest in France, since 1944 when France was liberated from Nazis. The slogan “Je Suis Charlie” became nominal in struggling for liberty and freedom of speech.Charlie Hebdo Terrorist Attack

Muhammad: the Banned Images

“The Banned images” is a book about the Jyllands-Posten cartoon controversy which was published in 2009. The book is an answer to those who refused publishing Prophet Muhammad cartoons in fear of a violence upsurge. The main topic of the book concerns freedom of speech and human rights. It includes over 30 pictures of Muhammad and describes the horrors of the totalitarian Sharia law and Islamic ideology. The book received sponsorship for Dr. Hull, professor of Duke University and the Voltaire Press.  

The main argument from Dr. Hull concerning the publication of “The Banned images” was that – “Our faculty has both the right and responsibility to speak out and debate critical issues as individuals and scholars”. Therefore, the book “Muhammad: the Banned Images” and Charlie Hebdo magazine both exposed Islam with a sarcastic attitude. The difference is that the magazine case caused a major outbreak of aggression.

The Clash Of Civilizations

Samuel Huntington has predicted the future 30 years ago. Today, Islamic fundamentalism is a global threat to the values of freedom and democracy. Twisted visions of diversity and tolerance have resulted in the European crisis, which was vividly described by Flemming Rose. Yet, the voice of reason cannot be silenced. Millions of protestors gather around the world and struggle for freedom of speech and condemn religion-based violence. Free speech is the fundamental value of humanity, and it can never be inferior to the feelings of believers.

Tyranny of the Silence. The Story of Flemming Rose

Flemming Rose

Flemming Rose was born in Denmark and grew up in Copenhagen. He majored in Russian language and literature in the University of Copenhagen. Through his life he has worked as a correspondent and editor for Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten newspapers. Later he became an active advocate of free speech and published his own book “Tyranny of the Silence”, which concerns the worldwide free speech suppression issue.Flemming Rose tyranny of the silence

Issues of Diversity

Rose states that the European Union is at crisis, for it cannot control excessive diversity in terms of modern globalization. The melting pot of cultural diversity creates a serious threat for freedom of speech. Certainly, in comparison with the 17th, 18th and even the beginning of 20th century the levels of free speech are higher. Yet if we compare current situation with the one which occurred 30 years ago, the status quo of free speech is in decline.

Some countries like Russia and China have rigid speech control, yet such tendencies are becoming increasingly popular in Western Europe. EU enforces policies which restrict the freedom of speech and label many statements as propaganda of hate. People who have different opinions that do not coincide with the “accepted” are instantly claimed as racist or xenophobic.

Many countries have criminalized criticism of:

  • Holocaust (Germany)
  • Armenian Genocide (Denmark)
  • Criticism of Ukrainian freedom fighters (Ukraine)
  • Criticism of the behavior of the Soviet Union during the World War 2 (Russia)

Flemming’s main point is that protecting historical memory through legislation is a truly authoritarian idea. The criminalization of the “glorification of terror” is in fact a euphemism, which in reality means criminalization of individual’s opinion. Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders is the kind of Soviet Union censorship style.Flemming Rose tyranny of the silence

The Cartoon Scandal

Flemming has commissioned the publishing of the drawings by Prophet Muhammad in the Jylands-Posten newspaper. The reason for such action was that many creative artists refused to publish their cartoons because they feared Muslim violence, and they were right. Allah’s revelation through Prophet Muhammad can never be criticized; in fact any Islamic religious dogma can never be criticized.

The result was the outburst of violence from the Islamic fundamentalists, the Charlie Hebdo attack. The Cartoons and the Islamic bloodshed created a public uproar. Of course, the result was ongoing free speech suppression.

Flemming Rose is a defender of the liberal enlightenment values and an advocate of global tolerance. He argues that Catholics and Protestants slaughtered each other for many centuries, yet they learned to coexist in peace. It’s crucial to understand that tolerance is living alongside with something that you don’t like or don’t understand. It is the core value of liberty – to have the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. Today the governments of the EU and other countries in the world are both part of the problem, and part of the solution. Governments need to remove constraining “hate propaganda” policies and encourage freedom of speech in the entire world.