Muslim Rage vs. Free Speech Obama Touts Ourreligious Freedom, but Muslims See Laws Limiting Hate in U.S. Yet Open Slams on Islam

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 25, 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Muslim Rage vs. Free Speech Obama Touts Ourreligious Freedom, but Muslims See Laws Limiting Hate in U.S. Yet Open Slams on Islam


Byline: Associated Press Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- In U.S.-funded ads running on Pakistani TV, subtitled clips show President Barack Obama extolling America's traditions of religious freedom. For many watching, though, the message misses the mark in efforts to calm the Islamic outrage over a film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

America's free speech laws and values of openness are not in question, but rather there is confusion and anger over how they are applied.

A powerful theme binding the protests from Indonesia to Africa is the perception that the U.S. codes of free speech are somehow weighted against Islam -- permitting the Internet video that insults the faith but placing clear limits on hot button issues such as hate speech, workplace discrimination and even what is acceptable on prime-time network TV.

Beyond the rage, bloodshed and death threats -- churning now for two weeks -- is a quandary for American policymakers that will linger long after the latest mayhem fades: How to explain the U.S. embrace of free expression to an Islamic world that increasingly sees only double standards?

Although there are many nuances -- including strict U.S. laws when hate speech crossed the line into threats or intimidation -- they are mostly lost in the current outrage that included a peaceful march in Nigeria on Monday and Iran threatening to boycott the 2013 Academy Awards after the country's first Oscar-winning film this year.

With each protest, many clerics and Islamic hard-liners hammer home the narrow view that America is more concerned with political correctness or safeguarding children from sexual content than the religious sensibilities of Muslims.

In Gaza, preacher Sheik Hisham Akram said tolerance is the goal, but the "red line" is crossed with "anyone who insults our religion." Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- now in New York for the U.N.'s annual General Assembly -- denounced last week the "deception" of U.S. laws protecting rights while allowing the clip from the film "Innocence of Muslims," which portrays Muhammad as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester.

"In some extent, it's not an issue of condemning America's freedom of speech. It's become an issue, in the eyes of many Muslims, over where the lines are and why they are not protecting the feelings of Muslims," said John Voll, associate director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington.

It also turns the $70,000 U.S. ad initiative in Pakistan -- one of the hotbeds of the protests -- into a major challenge to gain any ground. Besides Obama, the spots include Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton repeating that U.S. authorities had no connection to the video.

It's part of wider U.S. strategies to use social media and other forums to reach out to moderates in the Islamic world -- including what the State Department has described as a "virtual embassy" for Iranian web surfers. But the fallout from the film has so far drowned out appeals for calmer dialogue in places such as Pakistan, where at least 23 people have died in unrest linked to the film.

"The fact that (the Obama administration) is trying to step up to the plate and trying to engage where the debate is really happening should be commended," said Daniel Markey, a senior fellow in South Asian affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Muslim Rage vs. Free Speech Obama Touts Ourreligious Freedom, but Muslims See Laws Limiting Hate in U.S. Yet Open Slams on Islam
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?