Publicado el 09-27-2012
Freedom of Expression
and the Muslim Presence
in the U.N.
In the two days since the beginning of the 67th UN General Assembly in New York, several Muslim leaders have addressed that important world forum.
The new presidents of Egypt and Yemen, both products of the so-called “Arab Spring”, spoke on Wednesday and both rebutted President Obama’s defense of freedom of expression, arguing that cultural limits on rights like freedom of speech had to be respected.
Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, specifically condemned the violence provoked by a video that insulted the Prophet Muhammad and which caused numerous deaths. Morsi specified that Egypt respects freedom of expression, freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone.” Mr. Morsi added that “We expect from others, as they expect from us, that they respect our cultural specifics and religious references, and not seek to impose concepts or cultures that are unacceptable to us. Insults against the prophet of Islam, Muhammad, are not acceptable. We will not allow anyone to do this by word or by deed.”
On the other hand, President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen began his speech on Wednesday demanding limits to freedom of speech that insults religion. Those who defend freedom of expression, he said, “overlook the fact that there should be limits for this freedom of expression, especially if such freedom blasphemes the beliefs of nations and defames their figures.”
Other leaders spoke about the same issue. In his speech on Tuesday at the UN, the president of Pakistan spoke against freedom of expression on religious maters, and demanded that insults to religion be criminalized, urging the United Nations to address the issue immediately.
Any effort that can be made on behalf of true freedom of expression must be made. Opinions with decorum and respect can be expressed in or outside the United Nations Organization that would benefit world peace and strengthen the norms of a civilized coexistence, necessary and indispensable. This would benefit all and should be the norm practiced by those who now, in the UN forum, discussed the issue overlooking the reality that they do not practice what they preach.