What are the limits of free expression. At a recent conference Salman Rushdie and Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel agreed that laws against blasphemy are problematic, thorny and surprisingly, subject to some form of revisionism. In this information age, the internet is revealing that major events cannot be contained within a single frame of reference; all events are a vast and expanding work of collage. The Gaza flotilla tragedy showed there was no single image or story to define the event. Rather, a shifting array of contradictory images and stories. Our experience of world events is now mediated almost entirely by various kinds of pastiche that is being continually reorganized. Free expression itself will become a form of personal collage in a search for ultimate authenticity, in the absence of iconic images of defining moments.
“We are in danger of losing the battle for freedom of speech,” Mr. Rushdie said. It is being recast as a Western imposition, not a universal human right. Respect is being redefined as agreement, and censorship disguised as a virtuous defence of diversity. His own fatwa, he said, was “a rejection of the idea of fiction as a form” and “the beginning of something that was going to spread around the world.” Freedom of expression and imagination “is now very much back in question, and is strongly under attack by religious authorities and religious armies of different sorts, and not only Islam,” Mr. Rushdie said.” ( Joseph Brean, National Post )
“It would be very inappropriate to think of any system of ideas as something that should be protected from debate,” Mr. Rushdie said. “This is in a way at the heart of the free-speech argument, that you should by all means protect individuals against discrimination by reason of whatever their belief system may be. But the beliefs themselves are open for debate, criticism, satire, and all kinds of disrespectful remarks.”
As an example, he mentioned a cartoon he had just seen of Mohammad reading a newspaper, by Jonathan Shapiro in the Mail and Guardian of Johannesburg.The cartoon depicts Muhammad lying on a couch and complaining to a psychologist that “other prophets have followers with a sense of humour”. The problem is that the war of cartoons, could turn into war on the streets; much like the war of the posters between the two world wars in Europe.
”Today represents a terrible blot on the justice system of South Africa. The publishing of an offensive cartoon of Muhammad (saw) by the reckless and irresponsible Mail and Guardian on behalf of its cartoonist, Zapiro and the comments made by them since display a well thought out action that was meant to hit Muslims where it hurts most. Additionally, this was part of an international collective of sick people who ran the Facebook page, “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day”, a collective that the M&G and Zapiro actively chose to be a part of and have since been completely unapologetic of. In fact they are proud of the “upholding of freedom of speech”
Muslims are reminded by none other than Allah about these type of people: “Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, but what their breasts conceal is far worse. Indeed We have made plain to you the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) if you understand.” (Aal Imraan: 118)” ( www.pureislam.co )
008 issue by artist Barry Blitt, shows Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama dressed as a Muslim and his wife as a terrorist." width="291" height="425" />