Stands >2006 Stands >The Stand of  Safar 07 1427H /March 07, 2006 A.D.

The western media campaign and the freedom of speech

Sayyed Fadlullah: The West has exploited the notion of the freedom of speech to defile all what is Islamic, and to engage in an ideological and cultural hypocrisy that most Western Administrations practice towards Arabs and Muslims, as well as their sacred symbols and beliefs.

Asked in his weekly seminar the following question: What is the Islamic view regarding the freedom of expression”

The Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, said” Freedom is born with man. Man's freedom is inmate. God has created him as a free being and no one can remove this trait from him.

Thus, it was natural for all heavenly messages to guarantee man's freedom and stand against whoever wishes to enslave man whether morally or physically.

Islam, as the last heavenly message was no exception. It guaranteed man's freedom against all forms of exploitation and enslaving. Imam Ali says: "Do not be a slave to others while Allah has created you free”. Caliph Omar bin Al-Khattab denounces those who enslave others and asks them:

When did you enslave people while their mothers have given birth to them as free men?

Freedom of expression of thoughts, beliefs and feelings in all human and familiar ways is one of the freedoms Islam guarantees. Man is not an inanimate being. It is a living` being that reacts to what is around him and that feels the need to express what is inside him. Islam, regardless of what those who belong to it did, did not in its legislation seek to silence the people and kill the spirit of creativity.

Thus, we have produced throughout our Islamic history poets, philosophers, scientists, writers, artists… etc. We also witnessed several groups who used to express their anti -Islamic cultural position freely.

Islam did not persecute these groups. On the contrary, it is the Quran that has told us about their accusations of the Prophet as being a "magician" " a poet" " a liar" and the like, as well as their suspicions towards resurrection and other religious concepts.

But the Islamic system of freedoms is different than the others in that it is based on a special view of life and the universe that is founded on the belief in the Day of Judgment.

Thus, Islam does not encourage freedom for the sake of freedom. It associates freedom with development and creativity as well as the progress of history, which means the freedom of expression, ought to be responsible and targeted.

Therefore, although the freedom of speech is an essential virtue, it does not epitomize all the other values like man's dignity, which should not be appropriated in the name of the freedom of expression.

Moreover, if the system of freedoms in Islam is based on the belief in God, it is but natural that it should not reach the level of insulting God, His Books and His Messenger.

Consequently, it is not astonishing that the freedom of speech should be regulated by some restrictions that are imposed by the general interests. The most important of which is not to impede on man's privacy, and not to violate the society's morality and corrupt the women, the youth and the children by commercial sex.

Then there is the patriotic responsibility of not revealing the country's secrets in the name of the freedom of speech. This is an act of treason, which all countries agree that it should be punished.

This is why we have always told those who consider the freedom of expression as something unquestionable, that they have to learn the particularities of the nations, so that they will not offend others. If military aggression is a major crime, offending prophets, including the Messenger(p.), surpasses in the eyes of Muslims the aggression against the land, and the country, for prophets play the role of the savoir and the inspirer who lead people from darkness into light.

We have felt how dangerous such rhetoric is when the motives behind the call for freedom of expression became clear. Freedom is sacred when it has to do with offending Islam and the Messenger, but when it comes to revealing the facts regarding the Jewish question then anybody who dares to do that will be tried.

Therefore, we believe that the West has exploited the notion of the freedom of speech to defile all what is Islamic, and to engage in ideological and cultural hypocrisy that most Western Administrations practice towards Arabs and Muslims, as well as their sacred symbols and beliefs.

In this atmosphere, I do not rule out that the attack on the Imams’ shrines in Iraq is a part of the arrogant plan to deviate Muslims from being concerned with their general sacred symbols and drive them to become the fuel of sectarian wars in the aftermath of their emotional and political unity that was exhibited when they stood against the insult of the Prophet(p.) .

We are looking forward for a world that is marked by a responsible freedom of expression that offends no sacred symbols or human groups, and that does not lead states to a state of emergency as a result of an inciting emotional rhetoric that hides behind the freedom of expression.

That is why we, in Lebanon, want those who have joined training sessions of direct dialogue to live the general interests of the country and the nation, and not the interests of an individual or a sect. They should know that serving the tutelage plans of dominance and hegemony does not represent the responsible freedom. It is seeking to build the country, taking into consideration the importance of reaching an internal understanding among all parties that have mutual interests in it, while at the same time not neglecting the role of Lebanon in the region and the world.