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ISLAM AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

Frei Betto

THE Innocence of Muslims is the title of a U.S. film directed by one Sam Bacile, which defames the prophet Mohammad and offends all those who subscribe to this faith.

Islam and freedom of expression

Islam and freedom of expression

Who is Sam Bacile? No one knows. The film’s director, perhaps fearing reprisals, has hidden in anonymity. It is suspected that Bacile and the producer, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian who lives California, are one in the same.

Scenes in the film range from crude to pornographic. In one of these an old woman asserts, "I am 120 years old. I have never known a criminal murderer like Mohammad. He kills men, captures women and children, robs caravans and sells children as slaves after he abuses them."

Do you know any Christian who would appreciate hearing something similar said about Jesus Christ? Or a Jew, regarding Moses or David?

As soon as the film became known via Internet, a wave of protests broke out in Muslim countries. The U.S. ambassador in Libya was killed. Some Western countries’ diplomatic missions were attacked and burnt in Egypt, Tunisia, Indonesia, Iran, Yemen and Bangladesh.

Sam Bacile’s film is, of course, a serious offense to all who believe in Mohammad as a bearer of divine revelations. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, described the film as "disgusting and reprehensible," but added that the U.S. must respect freedom of expression.

Let us imagine that a film of Monica Lewinsky having oral sex with Bill Clinton was posted on the Internet. How would Hillary react to that? Freedom of expression?

Why doesn’t the British royal family follow Hillary Clinton’s logic and drop its legal charges against the French magazine Closer, which published pictures of princess Kate Middleton topless on a private beach? Shouldn’t freedom of expression be respected?

All freedom has its limits: respect for the dignity and rights of others. Absolutely no one is free to damage reputations, avoid taxes, offend anyone’s mother. Certain negative actions may be legal, like producing pornography, but they are indecent and unjust. How would natives of Rio de Janeiro react if suddenly the Christ of Corcovado’s face were covered with a devil mask? " Freedom of expression?

Since the twin towers fell in 2001, a deep prejudice against Muslims has been fomented in the United States. This climate has fostered the production of cinematographic works like Sam Bacile’s. Instead of sending soldiers to protect U.S. diplomatic missions abroad, the U.S. should solemnly beg Muslims their forgiveness and withdraw the film from circulation.

Freedom of expression must necessarily be contextualized. You can go to the beach in a thong bikini or Bermuda shorts, but not to work or to church. Today, I can criticize the Greek Olympic gods for their sadomasochistic promiscuity, but that would have been unthinkable in Athens, four centuries before Christ.

The Brazilian Constitution is perfectly clear when it comes to freedom of expression in Article 5, Section IV, "Free expression of thought is protected; anonymity is prohibited.

Carlos Daley holds an executive certificate in Strategic management and business evaluation from Harvard University and a Masters in Financial Management from the University of Maryland.
Category: The Patriot

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