In Defence of Freedom of Speech and Against the Publication of Certain Cartoons
Date of Issue2015
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
This paper explores the concept of freedom of speech, as it relates to religion, focusing on recent European examples of tensions that surface secular mores and Islamic sensibilities, primarily the Charlie Hebdo incident. This paper argues that while offence to others does not breech free speech, when considering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, we cannot ignore the geopolitical context. Such images may perpetuate stereotypes and be perceived as part of a neo-colonial project to denigrate minorities and the Muslim world. In particular, Islamophobia and the post-colonial context provide a context wherein the Islamic “Other” within Western societies is marginalised and often experiences oppression. Therefore, what appears to be legitimate freedom of speech may actually be a discourse of suppression. The paper also considers possible objections around individual autonomy and the power of religion, and suggests principles when considering the limits of freedom of speech.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science
RSIS Working Paper, 294-15
Nanyang Technological University