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Freedom of speech vs. freedom of religion

by Mike Zaslavsky September 25, 2012
Freedom of speech vs. freedom of religion

Does killing innocent people, creating riots and destroying buildings really communicate the right message regarding a controversial Youtube video?

On Sept. 11 four American diplomats, including an ambassador, were killed in Libya following the release of a controversial anti-Muslim YouTube video. Afterwards, riots broke out in two dozen Middle Eastern countries. The protests against the video were largely violent and the New York Times reported that at least 28 people had died as a result of the reactionary demonstrations.

On Sept. 15, the FBI arrested 55-year-old suspect, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-born American citizen, for allegedly taking part in the creation a short film portraying or rather parodying the Prophet Muhammad and Muslims as a war-mongering nation.

Shortly after the suspect’s arrest in California, federal probation officers interviewed him for half-an-hour and then released him. Nakoula’s release further angered Muslim communities around the world and some Muslim leaders demanded that American authorities arrest the suspect and execute him.

“The anti-Islam film hurt our religious sentiments and we cannot tolerate it,” spokesman for the Afghan militant group Hizb-i-Islami, Haroon Zarghoon, told The Associated Press. “There had been several young men who wanted to take revenge […] to tell the world we cannot ignore any anti-Islam attack.”

On Sept. 22 Pakistan’s Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmed Bilour also had a lot to say about the video.

“I announce today that this blasphemer who has abused the holy prophet, if somebody will kill him, I will give that person a prize of $100,000,” he said.

Did Nakoula, a Coptic Christian, really commit a crime punishable by a prison sentence or even death? I believe he did not.

Although the creation and release of the video does violate moral and ethical conventions, it does not constitute a crime under U.S. law. The United States is a democratic society that values freedom of expression and the country should not be held accountable for the acts of one citizen.

In my opinion, the violence seen in many Muslim countries is unacceptable, especially the murder of innocent foreign diplomats. The reaction of the Muslim world is disproportionate to Nakoula’s acts. No country or group of people is allowed to demand the imprisonment of a citizen that would go against that country’s constitution.

I understand that in Islamic law, insulting the Prophet Mohammad is a crime punishable by death, but the Western world is not governed by religious laws or by threats. We are a democratic society bound by judicial law and try as we might not to offend the views of others, violence is never going to be the answer.

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1 comment

Sasha252 September 26, 2012 - 21:28

It’s not in Islamic law to punish by death those who insult the Prophets (as Muhammad is not the only Prophet of Islam, and Jesus and Moses are also followed Prophets), however any nation/society/religion will want to stand up for their beliefs and when someone insults them, it will definitely cause some sort of chaos. 

By assuming Muslims resorting to violence is a huge stereotype. Students across our nation resorted to violence when they found out tuition was going to increase, they weren’t all Muslim were they?

Violence is definitely not the answer to anyone’s problems, but if the problem is the video itself, should it not be banned on youtube? Or on the internet itself? Sigh, a simple answer to such tremendous chaos.

People seem to not understand that Islam is being wrongfully mocked, and people are just standing and continuing to point fingers at people who’s beliefs have been offended.

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