It is important that the world community has begun to recognize and realize the importance of respecting religious sanctity and limits for freedom of expression and has begun to pay attention to this issue that surely will have a far-reaching impact in spreading security, safety and peace worldwide.
The Qur`an and Respecting the Sanctity of Others
Islam has already established a fair and objective basis for respecting the sanctity of other religions. The Glorious Qur’an forbids insulting gods or deities of other religions as it causes an exchange of insults between followers of the religions and leads to sectarian strife in the world.
Allah the Almighty has said in this regard:
“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made pleasing to every community their deeds. Then to their Lord is their return and He will inform them about what they used to do.” (Al Ana`am: 108).
It is gratifying that the European Court has felt the seriousness of the issue and ruled insulting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) not included in the freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression as defined by the European Court
The European court has ruled that insulting the Prophet Muhammad is not included in the content of freedom of expression or freedom of speech.
The decision by a seven-judge panel came after an Austrian national held two seminars in 2009 in which the prophet Muhammad was targeted and insulted.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday 25th October 2018 that insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad is not covered by freedom of expression.
Defaming the Prophet “goes beyond the permissible limits of an objective debate” and “could stir up prejudice and put at risk religious peace.” the ruling stated.
The court said that the above-mentioned Austrian’s comments could not be covered by the freedom of expression, stating that it had found that “the applicant’s statements had been likely to arouse justified indignation in Muslims” and “amounted to a generalization without factual basis.”
Limits for Freedom of Expression
There is no doubt that a sound mind and an objective thinking definitely rules that freedom of expression must be restricted with respecting the feelings of others. No one is allowed to go out to the street and shout with foul words about the neighbors or the people of the region on the grounds that he is free to express and that he can say whatever he wants. And none should be allowed to write or publish what he wants on social media.
Undoubtedly, hurting the feelings is a central source for the most individual and collective conflicts and disputes in the world. The elimination of it is a guarantee for the elimination of many strife and destruction in the world. Therefore, developing programs or software that can automatically identify and remove any abuse and insult published on the internet is necessary and important these days.
The companies such as; Facebook, Twitter, Whats app and others should work for the solutions of this problem.