Lack of criticism to blame for Paris horror

Various contributors discuss free speech in the wake of recent Paris events under the group heading “Free expression is not a right to incite” (Letters, 10 January).

The main import of the contributions is the belief that freedom of speech has to have some restrictions.

I agree, and it does. The European Convention on Human Rights which grants us our right to freedom of speech goes on to say that governments can put restrictions on same for various reasons, including the prevention of national security breaches, public disorder, inciting violence etc.

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There are no provisions for the prevention of satirical cartoons.

It is true that satirical cartoons were the trigger of the violence this week, but it is simplistic in the extreme to say the cartoons therefore caused the violence. What caused the violence is the unwillingness of the Muslim community as a whole to accept criticism of their religion and within that the propensity of extremists to shoot people when offended.

Any suggestion that there should be a special provision in the Human Rights Convention banning cartoons satirising Islam on the grounds they amount to an incitement to violence is 
perverse.

Presumably, those who hold that view would want similar restrictions added to the Indecency Act when they start murdering women who bare their limbs in public.

Colin Hunter

Hollyhock Glade

Livingston

Mocking other people’s beliefs is no way to win friends. The Charlie cartoons were not satirical by any standard. Being French, they were – naturally enough – not even funny.

They were just rude.

Surely it is to factual and informative journalism that the right of free speech applies.

Malcolm Parkin

Gamekeepers Road

Kinnesswood,

Kinross

The great mass of law-abiding Muslims are not, of course, to be blamed for the atrocities committed by the few. Yet when we consider the future of free speech and our other liberties we need to be aware of the difference between the moderation and low profile wisely adopted by a faith group when it is a small minority and the increasing assertiveness which is likely as it grows in size.

The Catholic Church, for example, appears to respect our freedom regarding contraception, abortion, divorce and homosexuality, but this rests upon it not at present being politically feasible for them to deny us such freedoms. They will pay out line when they have to and reel in when they can.

We speak of a secular democracy but this becomes a contradiction in terms when the adherents of one religious dogma come to hold the balance of power or become the majority.

Pakistan is a democracy but it is not somewhere you would go to enjoy intellectual freedom. It was founded upon the premise that Muslims must dominate the state in which they live. This same demand is being pursued in many parts of the world.

In Muslim-majority countries, policies which are antithetical to our values represent the will of the people. When safely diluted with those of other faiths or none, many Muslims are happy to be spared the demands of such a culture or the infighting of different Muslim factions. But this doesn’t mean they are able to avoid these effects as their numbers become greater.

Where do we see a Muslim country in which Christian or atheist communities are growing in size and influence?

John Riseley

Harcourt Drive

Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Carolyn Taylor thinks it wrong to “target the religion, not the extremists” (Letters, 10 January), but the two are inseparable.

As it is the religion that inspires the extremists, the religion itself is an obvious target.

Stephen Moreton

Marina Avenue

Warrington, Cheshire

It was noticeable that, of all The Scotsman letters condemning the atrocity in Paris (Letters, 10 January), not one was from a declared Muslim. I assume they don’t much care to let their feelings be known one way or another.

In an obscure way we are at fault for allowing the ridiculous myths of faith to have such a high profile in our countries. We are civilised nations of the First World with most of the inhabitants having a healthy scepticism about God and religion, so allowing Third World attitudes to be given so much credence is the problem.

I’m not against religion, I’m against blind faith. If you must have a God, fine, but stop trying to impose Him on me.

Stan Hogarth

Palmerston Place

Edinburgh

I appreciate your laudable choice to select very balanced views in your letters page of 10 January. Though there is no Muslim voice included, Muslim sentiments are represented in the choice. Muslims feel the hurt caused by the atrocities by the group involved in terror acts in Paris and condemn it.

It is our wish to contribute to possible efforts as well to try and prevent any future atrocities in our midst. But it is not the religion or the main mass of community which should be held responsible for the acts of a group on the extreme.

Hasan Beg

Harcourt Road

Kirkcaldy

The Charlie Hebdo murderers were dangerous but not significant; they were simply stupid misguided boys with guns.

It is a mistake to inflate their influence, and make them appear important, just because they could shoot. That is likely to make them attractive to impressionable young men.

The people who are important are ordinary Muslims who want to quietly observe their own religion and tolerate others who want to be free to carry on activities even though they may run counter to their beliefs. We need to support and encourage these Muslims so that young people are diverted from fundamentalism towards liberal principles.

Stanley McWhirter

Balcarres Street

Edinburgh