Host Nicky Campbell alongside guest Jodie Ginsberg (CEO of Index on Censorship) debates Abdullah al Andalusi on so-called ‘Freedom of Speech’ in the West, and the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. I raised the point of Western double standards when it came to Free Speech. Nicky tried to derail my argument by asking what is the best countries in the World to be Muslim (expecting I would say ‘UK, USA’ or another Western country – suffice to say, he wasn’t happy with my response of ‘Indonesia, Malaysia or [most] South American [countries]”. Many Islamophobes like to portray Muslims have having a disagreement with Western values because it is different to Islamic values – this is not true. Muslims generally have no problem with many non-Muslim countries, including those in South America (I could also mention South Africa too), because these countries simply don’t have a history of aggression in the Muslim world, and are totally content to allow its Muslim citizens to practice their religion and hold ‘illiberal’ beliefs. In fact, there are virtually no recorded Islamophobic attacks on Muslims or Mosques in South America! The same can’t be said for how leading Western countries treat their Muslims minorities.
Nicky tried to point out that anti-semitic cartoons are not allowed in France because it is a race, whereas religion is a different matter. I countered that one’s religion is more defining of one’s characteristics, personality and identity than race – and people in a religious community should be respected and protected as a community from the same demonisation that other communities (identified by race) are vulnerable to. If demonising the followers of a religion is allowed, it would ultimately lead to [social] and state discrimination against them. The UK actually bans incitement to religious hatred, with restrictions almost equal to protections against incitement to hatred against race and sexual preference, perhaps something Nicky needs to address. Alas there wasn’t more time to speak, but the main points that needed to be made were said.
The BBC 5 Live program was broadcast live 13th January 2015.
Watch the full audio of the discussion here: