Yes to free speech, no to double standards, but we expect more from our leaders than the bare minimum that the law demands.
On March 6, 2001 the European Court of Justice ruled that "the European Union can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of European precedents on civil liberties."
A challenge in 1990 to the publication of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" on the grounds that it contained "a blasphemous libel concerning Almighty God (Allah) the Supreme Deity common to all the major religions of the world" was rejected because Britain's blasphemy law was restricted to "scurrilous vilification of the Christian religion."
A Paris court on February 27, 1998, fined French philosopher Roger Garaudy $40,000 for statements made in his 1996 book "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics." The European Court of Human Rights declared inadmissible his appeal lodged in the case of Garaudy v. France.
Ernst Zundel, Germar Rudolf and David Irving are serving time in jail in Europe for their views about the holocaust. Why doesn't the press support Zundel's, Rudolf's, Irving's, or Garaudy's right to free speech.
Would a U.S. president invite Zundel, Rudolf, Irving, or Garaudy to dinner at the White House as then President Clinton did with Salman Rushdie?" I think not.
We understand that changes to the Patriot Act sought by President Bush would make illegal at certain gatherings signs that have not been previously approved.
Yes, Muslim demonstrations may not be effective, but they are understandable. Muslims are fed up with the double standards, the constant attacks on Islam, and their virtual exclusion from mainstream debate.
Civil society requires more than merely observing the law. Language acceptable in a novel, is not acceptable in the communications from society's leaders - be it a newspaper, corporation or state.
Enver Masud is founder of The Wisdom Fund, and the recipient of the 2002 Gold Award from the Human Rights Foundation for his book The War on Islam.
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