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Harris Zafar's Islamic Intellectual Incoherence
by Andrew E. Harrod
Harris Zafar, national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, posted recently at the Washington Post's online Guest Voices blog the article "Making Islamic Sense of Free Speech." Review of Zafar's analysis shows that he makes no sense, Islamic or otherwise, at all with respect to free speech. If anything, Zafar deceptively offers justification for censorship all the while proclaiming respect for intellectual freedom.
Zafar references recent Saudi Arabian prosecutions of individuals for statements deemed offensive to Islam as "incidents" that "have re-ignited the age old debate about... freedom of speech, especially with regards to Islam." Zafar asserts that "many secularists champion individual privileges" (not rights, Zafar curiously writes), while "Islam promotes... uniting mankind and cultivating love." According to Zafar, both Islam and "modern-day free speech advocates" each "endorse freedom for people to express themselves, but Islam promotes unity, whereas" the latter "promote individualism."
Linking to various verses of an online Koran at an Ahmadiyya website, Zafar seeks to show that Islam "promotes free speech when our intention is to serve a good purpose" but not if "our intentions are to insult others or promote disorder." In contrast, free speech's "most vocal proponents" believe "people can say anything and everything on their mind "resulting in "every form of provocation." Such a "legal privilege to insult others... is neither democracy nor freedom of speech." Whatever value free speech has "still pales in comparison to the cause of world peace."
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