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One’s freedom stops where other’s starts

Jan 17,2015 - Last updated at Jan 17,2015

The statement issued Thursday by the Royal Hashemite Court condemning the continued publication of cartoons by the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo clearly shows where Jordan stands on the issue.

The Royal Court statement stated in no uncertain terms that “the continuation of publishing insulting cartoons that depict our Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) offends the feelings of Muslim communities everywhere. It is a condemned act that is irresponsible and far from the essence of freedom of expression, which is founded on principles of responsibility and respect for religions”.

The recent events in France should raise two important issues: the right to freedom of expression — how far it can be pushed, and the responsibility that comes in the exercise of this right — and the resort to violence to “settle scores” — a cowardly, unwarranted at any time, weak response that takes the place of rational dialogue and tolerance.

The right to express oneself freely is dear to all mankind. But when such expression takes the form of hate speech, incitement to discrimination or even murder — particularly at moments of high tension, as witnessed nowadays between the West and some abhorrent criminals who perpetrate their unconscionable deeds in the name of religion — it stops being a right, it is gratuitous provocation.

Attacks on religions and their symbols should not be confused with freedom of expression.

That said, resorting to crime cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

We are supposed to be sensible human beings with systems of governance that take care of our grievances.

Resorting to dialogue and courts of law does a service; killing causes irreparable damage to all.

Equally important is the application and observance of law across the board.

When a group is favoured over others, when double standards are allowed, when people feels marginalised and hopeless, when free speech is granted to some but denied to others, then something is wrong with society, so it should not be surprised to see the system, or some of its members, come unhinged.

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