01 March 2015

A Clash of Cultures at Charlie Hebdo

.... Western and Islamic societies have radically contradictory beliefs regarding freedom of expression and freedom of religion. In the United States, we take it for granted that our Constitution protects wide-ranging and even offensive speech and gives us complete freedom to argue for or against any religious belief system.

Google the phrase “Jesus was a jerk” and you will find a rather irreverent critique of Christianity by an American atheist. Atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and the late Christopher Hitchens have published blistering attacks on Christianity and every other religion. No one in the United States dreams of prosecuting such authors for blasphemy. Moreover, we Americans are completely free to abandon religion altogether or to convert to a new faith.

In the Muslim world, the situation is very different. In most Muslim countries, Islam is the official state religion, and the law, shaped to varying degrees by Islamic law or sharia, privileges some version of Islam over all other faiths. [The Iconoclast] Read more