- WHAT IS FREEDOM?
- WHAT IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH?
- WHAT IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH BY A COUNTRY?
- Freedom of Speech according to the Western World
- Freedom of Speech according to the Eastern World
- Freedom of Speech according to the UDHR
- FREEDOM OF SPEECH SHOULD HAVE LIMITATION BECAUSE:
- It creates a peaceful environment
- It counters blasphemy
- It roots out hate speeches
- It produces tolerance
- It protects the rights of minority
- It brings about socio-economic and political harmony
- It produces regional and international peaceful coexistence
- WHY FREEDOM OF SPEECH SHOULD HAVE LIMITATION?
- To abate Blasphemy
- To eliminate hate speech threatening social harmony
- To counter defamatory statements
- To avoid contempt of court
- To abolish incitement
- To phase out violence
- To root out opinion triggering genocide
- To protect national security
Freedom of speech is not absolute. It has and should have limitations. It is one of the fundamental rights across the world. This right is recognized by the constitutions almost in every country. In the western world, free speech is exercised to the great extent as compare to the Eastern world. However, having limit on free speech, creates peaceful environment, encounters blasphemy, hate speeches and produces tolerance among the masses. The limit on freedom of speech is of utmost significance in order to uphold and smooth functioning of democratic rule. According to the legal theorists and political philosophers, the absolute freedom of expression can cause catastrophic and harmful consequences both on national and international levels. Therefore, freedom of speech should have limitations so that blasphemy, defame, character assassination, genocide and violence could be avoided.
According to Kelly’s definition, “Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want. Freedom is the strength of character to do what is good, true, noble, and right. Freedom without discipline is impossible”. As a matter of fact, man is a social animal. He is born free, he has freedom of expression and liberty. Hence, freedom is the power to act without unfair interference by an individual or the state. Freedom is neither created by law nor is it absolute.
Freedom of speech by a country is the concept in which a man is born free with the right to voice his thoughts or opinion publicly without any fear, hindrance, censorship or punishment. However, “Speech” is not limited to the masses speaking and is generally taken to include other forms of expression. According to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the rights of a man are preserved and formally granted with recognition by the laws of most nations. Nevertheless, the limitation of freedom in exercise varies from country to country. Most of the nations however uphold the governance with certain censorship and limitations.
In the meanwhile, freedom of speech according to the Western world is that a man is free and he has absolute liberty whatever he does. So, the western countries try to give the freedom to their citizen as much as they could do. As per report of freedom House, United Kingdom (UK), Spain, German and Estonia enjoy around more than 94% freedom.
While, the Eastern World, particularly, Muslim countries carry out their freedom according to the divine rules, Sunnah and the Holy Quran. Hence, there are some restrictions in the Muslim countries which are contrary to the Western countries. In Islamic countries, no person is not allowed to use abusive language to the holy places which are mentioned in the Jurisprudence and constitution. Because, such abusive language can put that person behind the bars or render him/her to the execution.
Moreover, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 in the wake of the holocaust, expressed a commitment by the world to promote and observe a full suite of fundamental human rights. Article 19 of the UDHR protected freedom of opinion and expression.
However, freedom of speech should have limitations because it creates peaceful environment. As a matter of fact, without any censorship, a person can harm another person’s sentiments, religious beliefs. If the expression is taken into account with certain limitation, it will thus create a peaceful and worth living environment across the world.
Apart from that freedom of speech encounters blasphemy. For instance, article 295 (B), 295 (C), 298 (A), 298 (B), 298 (C) are blasphemy laws in Pakistan which takes the person into account with respect to the derogatory remarks to our Holy Prophet (SAWW), Holy personage, Holy Places, propagations to the Muslims respectively. Such laws encounter blasphemy.
In this way, freedom of speech root out the hate speeches. No one dares to make any hate speech. It not only creates the society a protective but also restricts unwanted religious, ethnic or immoral issues and does not let anyone to surpass the laws. Since no one is against the law. Everyone is bound to respect the constitution, Holy places and Holy personalities. Whatever is written in the Holy Quran, is regarded true without any doubt.
In this way, the freedom of speech with limitations produces tolerance. Tolerance is a basic principle of Islam. It is a religious moral duty. Islam teaches tolerance on all levels: individual, groups and states. Tolerance is the mechanism that upholds human rights and the rule of law. The Holy Quran says very clearly:(To every People have We appointed rites and ceremonies which they must follow, let them not then dispute with you on the matter, but do invite (them) to your Lord: for you are assuredly on the Right Way. If they do wrangle with you, say, ‘God knows best what it is you are doing.’ ‘God will judge between you on the Day of Judgment concerning the matters in which you differ’) (Al-Hajj 21:76-69).
In addition to that, it protects the rights of minority. According to the constitution of Pakistan, the Article 22, that provides equality to all the people who live in the country. As Pakistan has signed many for protection of minorities i.e Declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. Whether be it Muslim or Non-Muslim, no one is allowed to make harm each others’ religious, ethnic, racial, lingual, cultural and gender based sentiments.
Furthermore, it also brings about socio-economic and political harmony in the country. When no one speaks against each others’ religious, ethnic, racial, lingual, cultural and gender based sentiments, then the progress in that particular state, country or area is for sure. The mutual coordination, cooperation and reciprocal tendencies among the masses without any hindrance can bring about a great progress.
In such bond, it will produce regional and international peaceful coexistence that is indeed much needed in these days. All that we need to get progress on national and diplomatic levels. This is only possible when we are a one nation. We respect each others sentiments and do not harm anybody’s legitimate rights with absolute freedom of speech.
Thus, freedom of speech should have limitations because it abates blasphemy as aforesaid. It does not trigger any blasphemy issue. If this scenario goes like this, then no super power, no anit-Muslim country or no anti-state elements incite the masses. However, if in case any one is suspected or brought in the court with respect to the blasphemy law, a free and fair judicial proceeding will take place so that the guilty face the music and the innocent may set free respectfully.
As a result, it will eliminate hate speech threatening social harmony. Particularly in Pakistan, by freedom of speech with limitation, brings harmony, unity under one flag, one motto what is said by the founder of Pakistan, Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “Unity, Faith and Discipline”.
In the meanwhile, freedom of speech should have limitation because to encounter defamatory statements. That is against law, morality, ethnic values and human rights. If the limitations work well, then there won’t be any problem to face for the citizens as well to the country.
It is however generally seen that some people commit contempt of court. But, if they are abide by the rules, will avoid contempt of court. Therefore, freedom of speech with limitation plays pivotal role in avoiding contempt of court. In this way, whether be it any citizen, social activist, mass media or politician, they think hundred times before making any opinion which could be against the law and contempt of court. So, the freedom of speech should have limitations. In this regards, a renowned politician Raza Abidi, Talat Chaudry, Ahsan Iqabl Daniyal Aziz and many politicians faced the music of contempt of court. These days, Supreme Court of Pakistan is highly active with the determination of Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa.
Hence, in the above conditions, which depict the writ of governance and supremacy of law. In these circumstances, the freedom of speech plays indispensable role in creating limitation and phases out violence. Whether be it politician, bureaucrat, elite class or diplomat, no one dares to go beyond the lines to gain his vested interest by exploiting article 19 or freedom of expression.
It thus roots out the opinion, thoughts which become cause of triggering genocide. It is the freedom of expression by its limitation, the Muslims do not go beyond the ethal values and morality on mass media to encounter the genocides which are being done in Myanmar with Burma, in South Sudan with the Nuer and other ethnic groups, in Iraq and Syria with Christians and Yazidis, in Central African Republican with Christians and Muslims, and in Sudan with Darfur.
Consequently, freedom of expression with limitations protects the national security on multifarious aspects. Every citizen seems to be abide by the rule of law and does not go beyond it make any speech, any comment, any statement that may cause the national security. In 2019, that’s why Pakistan is blessed and ranked as the most patriotic nation.
To the sum up, freedom of speech should have limitation. Particularly, Pakistani people must have the right to produce their opinion whatever they want, but to an extent within limitations. Our country is a well known for being “the land of pure people,”. So, the citizens have to react like civilized nation. It is however highly needed to keep the tongue in control before it is too late. Because, misinformation, misunderstanding or miscalculation in the freedom of expression can cause horrific problems. Thus, it has rightly been said that freedom of expression should have limitations.