Where do we draw the line? Given that we live in increasingly mixed societies, with people of different faiths and backgrounds, should there be limits on free speech when it is offensive? For the sake of not disturbing the peace and building cohesive societies, leading publications have a job to set the tone and to challenge hate.
The 20th century saw some of the worst crimes inflicted on minority groups in the history of humanity, central to their committal was hate. Unchecked, racially charged discourse is a scourge of modern society that challenges the right of all to live in relative peace and security. The United Kingdom, the world’s oldest democracy and champion of the right to Free Speech enacted legislation to clamp down on “Racial and Religious Hatred” in 2006, recognizing there should be boundaries to what can and should be said.
Earlier this week The Times published a cartoon by Morten Morland in clear reference to the flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and ergo the Islamic Declaration of Faith, the Shahada. In associating this central message of Islam with a series of demonic ghouls and villainous figures, the cartoon draws a clear link between Islam and horror. This cannot be allowed to take place.
The Times is a paper of great pedigree, with a reputation of top tier journalism stretching three centuries. Therefore, given the history and standing of the publication, there is no doubt that it should be conscious of its role in adopting some societal trends and avoiding those as unsavory as religious hatred.
Political satire can surely be depicted without involving the Shahada. Such casual racism cannot be allowed to standZaid M. Belbagi