Insulting the sacred
The limit to freedom of expression is a ban on insults, legal concepts such as public order, and hate crimes.
Anti-Semitism, racism and other hate crimes are not regarded within the context of freedom of expression because “expressions” of this category humiliate others. More importantly, they are dangerous crimes. Their danger is to the disruption of public order by instigating the clash of masses that have different sensitivities. For these reasons, there are limits to freedom of expression. All laws are constructed according to this.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 1994 found it appropriate that a film humiliating God, Jesus and Mary was banned (Otto-Preminger Institute vs Austria, No. 13470/87).
These sentences are important in the justification: “God the Father, Mary Mother of God and Jesus Christ are the central figures in Roman Catholic religious doctrine and practice, being of the most essential importance, also for the religious understanding of the believers - the more so in view of the general character of the film as an attack on the Christian religion.”
Thus, the ECHR approved the banning of the film in Austria.
When viewed from the angle of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad is God’s subject and representative, the essence of Islam. An act that most offends and rages a Muslim is an insult to our Prophet. I find banning these kinds of caricatures correct, not only as a Muslim but also as a man of law.
Today, in Turkey, books that criticize Islam and praise atheism are freely published. The law or anybody from the population cannot say anything against these books, which contain criticism, not insults. This is the correct approach.
There are also many books printed about Islam in the West. There are ones that respect religion, criticize it, or are objective about it.
The issue is about caricatures that insult the Prophet Muhammad, who has a central value in the Islamic belief. Criticism is included in freedom of expression; the problem is insults.
The world is in such a spiral that Islamophobic publications and movements fuel radical and violent streams among Muslims. Their violent acts in turn fuel Islamophobia.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recently said that 94 mosques have been attacked in Germany over the past two years, although Turks are actually generally law-abiding residents of Germany. How many Turks have lost their lives in a horrible way after being torched to death in Neo-Nazi and Islamophobic attacks?
Everybody should see that Salafist-terrorist attacks and Islamophobic movements fuel one another.
Therefore, the lives of Muslims in the West in particular are becoming more and more difficult. The increase in security measures after the Paris massacre will also put Muslims in the most trouble.
At this point, Muslims should not limit themselves to criticizing Islamophobia only.
They should also condemn the savage acts of the Talibans, the al-Qaedas, the Boko Harams and the ISILs, and they should scrutinize the “jihadist” mentality that pushes people to commit these acts.
Muslims and Westerners will either live with mutual tolerance and understanding or they will instigate disasters with mutual hostilities. First of all, everybody should chill out.