Since last week the topic of the Muslim reaction to the scope of freedom of speech in the world of Latin civilization became largely up to date again. As a result of uploading a video “Innocence of Muslims” to the Internet, wherein the Islamic prophet is primitively criticized, disturbances, as well as riots, and terrorist attacks on American institutions took place in many Muslim countries.
However, the tone of commentaries to these events in the Western press, including the Polish one, is rather surprising. The author of the video is frequently recognized as the main culprit of the violence and has to endure constant abuse and invectives. In the background of these commentaries one can feel the presence of potential acceptance for the self-limiting of free speech and for the expression of views regarding the criticism of Islamic religion, and even understanding for the anger of Mahomet’s followers. I say explicit “no” to such attitudes.
Everyone has a right to the most severe judgment of the scandalous video content and its author, but he is not the one to blame for the violent acts and he shouldn’t be exhorted to hold back his actions. The author has also a right to his own, even radical views. He has a right to express them in whatever form he chooses. He has a right to publish and hype these views and the responsibility of institutions in liberal democratic countries is to ensure his security in spite of controversies evoked by him. The task of public opinion of the Western countries is perhaps initiating a polemic with him, but also simultaneous firm reinforcement of the stance on his right to voice his opinions instead of veiled suggestions aiming at preventing him from taking advantage of this privilege for the sake of “piece and quiet”, misinterpreted “political correctness” or “multicultural tolerance” leading to absurd and to turning a blind eye on disgraceful religious observances.
Similarly as the author of the famous caricatures of Mahomet, the author of this video is not guilty of the violence that happened in reaction to his undertakings either. Guilty are those who perpetrate violence and there are no, absolutely no justifications for their attitude. Things are as follows: firstly, there is freedom of speech in the world of liberal democracy, which also involves publishing such materials. Secondly, Islam adherents have a right not to be the recipients of materials considered blasphemous by them. Thirdly, if upon hearing about the existence of such material they run to the computer in order to watch it and become eye witnesses of a blasphemy heating up their emotions, they have only themselves to blame. Fourthly, if they fire up buildings, shoot at the police and kill a consul or any other person in reaction, they automatically become bandits, fanatics and terrorists. No explanations, referring to some “religious feelings”, are and ever will be regarded by a sane person as an acceptable justification for murders and fire-raisings.
There is no tolerance for such ways of venting anger. Therefore, the Western media have to give up the tone of certain understanding for reactions of Islamic fanatics and must stop shifting blame to citizens that take advantage of their freedom of speech. Guilty is the one who is guilty. No one else.
Translation: Anna Żelichowska