Please read this for the background: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/26/uthman-badar-both-islamophobias-victim-and-unwilling-accomplice
My comments are directed at those who called for his invite to be rescinded and his talk banned. These comments [slightly amended below] were originally posted on Twitter as part of a longer conversation.
The point is consistency. Consistency is an indicator of sincerity which is the antithesis of hypocrisy. Those who proclaim the indefeasibility of free speech cannot be capricious in their application of this principle for to do so would negate the very quintessence of this concept – that nobody has the right to prevent another from speaking his/her mind freely no matter how abominable they might assess their speech to be. I’ll spare you the Voltaire, Mill, Paine etc. – I’m sure you’re already conversant with all that.
Unequivocally advocating the murder of a person or a group of people is treated as a crime in most Western jurisdictions (including Australia). Clearly this was not the case with Uthman’s speech (or more accurately the title of his speech) or the police would have intervened – especially given the media furore surrounding it. So what you are left with is a segment of the population – majority or minority it matters not – that found the TITLE of his speech objectionable and so demanded that his right to deliver said speech be curtailed to allay their outrage.
IN response to the lady who asserted “Not sure it’s a virtue to be consistent at the price of ignoring particulars.” I reiterate that anything short of consistency renders the whole concept of FOS defunct. Who decides on the “particular” cases where FOS should not be applied? If the society was predominantly Muslim and the law provided for freedom of speech but not in “particular cases” (e.g. where it offended Islamic sensibilities) would you accept that as a society which upheld FOS? What you are really saying by that statement is that you will not tolerate speech that you find hurtful – ironically a position not so far removed from one I believe Uthman himself expounded some months ago vis-a-vis insults towards the Prophets (as).
As to the question (from the same lady) ‘What if [sic] title were “killing Muslims is morally justified”?’ then my answer is twofold:
(i) By the law of the land and in a society that upheld the principle of free speech such a speech should be allowed to go ahead. If in that speech the speaker incited people to go out and murder others then it would be a matter for the courts to decide but that title merely poses a question and in of itself is not hortatory.
(ii) As a Muslim I don’t believe in Freedom Of Speech. I have never hid that fact and there is no question of any inconsistency on my part. However, it is pertinent to point out that regardless of whether I (or anyone else for that matter) personally subscribe to this concept, under the law I am still entitled to free speech. My principles forbid me from blasphemy or speaking against the tenets of Islam – your principles forbid you from stopping me from speaking, full stop.