Proponents of Freedom of Speech and Expression who absolutise this right are bigots who amorally use it as a shield and target a particular group whilst knowingly concealing the fact that the right wherever adopted has been provided as restrictive – meaning one cannot have unrestrained use of it to damage the reputation and rights of others. This Freedom has been recently discussed in India and observed to be the “most abused” among Rights and Freedoms and more recently in France where the State continues to abuse it to target the Muslims and violate their rights and dignity. France said it will continue to uphold its “Freedom” to make caricatures and drawings (of Islam’s Prophet) after a French teacher was beheaded for reproducing the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad from Charlie Hebdo Newspaper which were denounced and protested against the world over in 2015. The caricatures not only disrespect Islam’s Holy Prophet who is revered by 2 billion Muslims but also tend to link Islam with terrorism through their discussion. They hurt the sentiments of Muslims of not only France but of Muslims all over the world and are violative of the rights of Muslims as they tend to damage their reputation by linking them to terrorism.
France’s Emmanuel Macron has never condemned the caricatures or respected the beliefs of the Muslims or even called for parity between the Freedoms and Rights of others which Human Rights actually propose to do. Instead he has blamed “Islamist separatism” and described Islam as “a religion in crisis all over the world” and proposed to “reform” the religion itself and said hijab was “not in accordance with the civility of our country”. His crackdown on Muslims following the murder of the teacher by closing mosques, Muslim organisations and his statements saying “Islamists want our future” and the provocative projection of caricatures on government buildings have instead led to further Islamophobia in the country and attacks on Muslims in the Republic – two French Muslim women were stabbed and called “dirty Arabs” in France’s capital following Macron’s statements.
Behind this is a political “we will not give in, ever” attitude and not a moral stand towards protection of rights and freedoms. France is a member of European Union and a signatory to European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR provides the right to freedom of expression subject to restrictions for protection of the reputation or rights of others and protection of morals. France does not want to give up the freedom to disrespect, disparage, disrepute, insult others and hurt religious sentiments? Most of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons are not just derogatory, defamatory but obscene in nature and France does not believe those are reasonable grounds for restriction for “protection of morals” either. Instead, France chooses to curtail the dignity and rights of Muslims by banning their dress codes because they are not considered “civil” in the French society. Is it the decency, protection of morals that Islam brings to France (which even ECHR talks of) that is most resisted by French leaders? Clearly France does not seem to be standing by “human dignity and universal values” the French President was talking of.
French President Emmanuel Macron is personally averse to “insults” himself but calls for continued insult to the Prophet of over 2 billion followers worldwide. This bigoted attitude of the President is irreconcilable to France’s statements of “not taking insults” from Turkey’s President Erdogan who said the French President needed “mental checks” for his “problems with” French Muslims and his continued public support for caricatures of Islam’s Prophet.
Charlie Hebdo’s insulting and defamatory caricatures and France’s support to them and subsequent reproduction by French government on the pretext of “freedoms” has outraged Muslims worldwide who have removed French products from their markets in a protest boycott. The caricatures have been condemned by Christians alike.
People who have insulted the Prophet and those who support the insult clearly do not know that it was the Prophet who said: “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a White has no superiority over a Black nor a Black has any superiority over a White – except by piety and good action.”
It was he who said: “The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.”
Prophet Muhammad is revered by billions of Muslims and love for him is part of their faith. His drawings and images are prohibited in Islam.