Freedom or rather the lack of it

Rosa Luxembourg once stated that freedom is and always will be freedom for the one who thinks differently, this week that maxim was shown to be true. Indeed it is always shown to be true when something or when someone dares to  insult or doubt the Islamic prophet Muhammad and when it goes viral on the internet or some other source freedom of speech is always thrown out. The eruption of violence from around 20,000 people around the Islamic world because of a crude film was distasteful, disgusting and abhorrent.  Before anyone tries to defend the angry response because of the content of the film this isn’t the first event of its kind. In 1989 the author Salman Rushdie was given a fatwa by the former grand Ayatollah of Iran a man who ran his country into the ground and had not only not read the book but probably couldn’t, a bounty was even offered to the person who could murder the historian and novelist. This was met with wide condemnation in the world which was intelligent and literate including those in Iran, however the bounty has recently been increased and the Grand Ayatollah has stated that if Rushdie had been murdered then this new film wouldn’t have happened it seems he believes that murdering writers is a good way to go. Mind you this is a regime which backs up Mr Assad and hangs homosexuals so is anyone surprised? Rushdie had to have round the clock protection for years for daring to write a book and still could be under threat. Various other incidents also include the murder of a dutch film-maker in public for daring to create a film critical of the faith and the Danish cartoon incident which I’m sure everyone knows about.

The reason why I gave the numerous examples is because I am sick of hearing people failing to overwhelmingly condemn rioting, murder, threats and intimidation on the basis that they are offended by a piece of literature which doubts a faith, or a crude film which is insulting. I am offended almost every day by something I read, here or listen to, yet I do not resort to trying to kill someone, violently protest or intimidate anyone and if I did I would be rightly arrested and condemned as rather intolerant.  However I haven’t yet heard mass condemnation of these violent protests and instead I have heard apologetic hogwash which wouldn’t be fit for consumption even amongst the daily mail crowd. I think we all agree freedom of speech is one if not the most important asset we hold and without it a society cannot flourish and neither can ideas. With this agreement it must also be recognised that we should unite against this violence and intolerance which plagues those who hold it and condemn the nonsense which is taking place by simply saying no, you cannot be that offended and act like that. This has been vigorously stated by a few but by no means many and it was the same 20 years ago with Mr Rushdie it seems we haven’t progressed in our condemnation of violence and intolerance.

We have experienced this frightening action too many times, it is time we actually endorsed freedom for those who want it and stop the madness which engulfs much of the world. Like Miss Luxembourg stated freedom is and always has been the freedom for those who think differently. This basic freedom is denied in many parts of the world, from the apostate in Pakistan who is targeted because he has fallen foul of the faith and is hunted for this fall from the faith to the 10 year old christian girl who was harassed by a mob and then arrested after allegedly burning pages from a Koran. The real way to end this nonsense is to print Rosa Luxembourg’s quote across the world and hope that others take the message of tolerance of other ideas.

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