Islam and Free Speech: OIC vs. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
by Michael Curtis:
One of the important early contributions of James Madison to American life was his impact on the framing of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1776. One section stated that “all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience.” Another declared that “any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.” The Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution went even further with the provision that Congress should make no law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion or abridge the freedom of speech or of the press.
As a result of Islamic activity in recent years the question has arisen in Western countries whether tension or incompatibility exists between the two principles, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and whether restrictions should be imposed on speech critical of religions or religious beliefs. Should those beliefs and belief systems be protected from adverse comment? Equally should not those who may be offended by such comment tolerate the legitimate exercise of free expression in democratic societies?
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