Religious offence - hate speech or free speech?

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Religious offence - hate speech or free speech?
Photo: DPA

Germany is split on a possible screening of the film which sparked violence in several Islamic countries. It is a free speech versus religious sensibility debate – with fear of violence mixed in. Have your say.


The government would like to prevent the anti-Muslim group Pro Deutschland from screening the “The Innocence of Muslims” film in Germany, obviously fearing a violent reaction from offended Muslim extremists.

When the group demonstrated in front of mosques with posters of the Mohammed cartoons which had caused outrage when published in Danish newspapers, Salafist counter-protesters ended up attacking the police.

Yet opposition Social Democrat and Green politicians argued against preventing a public showing of the film, saying it would lay down a dangerous civil rights precedent.

Muslim groups are also divided on how to respond, with the Coordinating Council of Muslims in Germany and the Central Council of Muslims pleading for a ban.

They said the film was so deeply offensive to Muslims it should qualify as hate speech, while also warning of potential violence on the streets of Germany should it be shown. The Catholic Church added its voice to those calling for a public showing of the film to be prevented.

Yet Lamya Kaddor, chairwoman of the Liberal-Islamic Association spoke out in favour of showing the film.

She told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper the violence had little to do with religion, and that it was “more insulting to Mohammed to allow oneself to be provoked, to kill other people and set buildings on fire.”

She said Muslims slipped into the role of victim if they demand a ban on screening the film. “I can understand that many say – 'we Muslims again!?' But one must try to keep a cool head. We shouldn't always react like puppets.”

The entire debate only contributes to Islamophobia, she said, as talk quickly turns from outraged Salafists to outraged Muslims, putting everyone in the same category.

Would stopping a public showing of the film be sensible, showing understanding for the religious beliefs of Muslims living in Germany, and preventing hate speech? Or should Germany demand toleration of offence in the name of free speech? Have your say.

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