Right to freedom of expression

Context:  Following the beheading of Samuel Paty, a middle-school teacher in France for showing cartoons of the Prophet as part of a class on free expression, three more have been killed.

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  • A Dalit lawyer was killed in Gujarat for posts allegedly prejudicial to Brahmins.

How to nurture Freedom of Expression?

  • Supporting the right to freedom of expression does not require to validate offensive speech.
  • Freedom will better be served by promising any religious community a public sphere that could never cause them offence.
  • Compromising on freedom of expression will set back the struggle of millions of people to free themselves from the oppressive blasphemy laws everywhere across the world.
  • Politically mobilised, fanatical religion has often not been safe for individual freedom, whether it is a form of Islam, Christian or Buddhist fundamentalism or Hindu nationalism.
  • There is a need to ensure that the asymmetries of power do not discriminate against communities.
  • Governments need to understand that purpose of public policy and public discourse is to protect freedom and not to stereotype or subordinate another culture or produce a forced uniformity.

It is time to cut through complicated politics and defend the simple principle of liberty, against all challenges.

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