There’s a commonly-uttered sentence in the English language that puts me in a state of apprehension in about 0.1 seconds:
“I’m a big believer in freedom of expression.”
Pop quiz: About eight out of ten times, what’s the word that follows?
It’s not “Period.”
And so it is with Ali Selim, a Muslim lecturer in Ireland who has announced that he’ll go to court to punish or gag Irish journalists who dare spread Islam-mocking Charlie Hebdo cartoons. Selim is also a dignitary with the Islamic Cultural Center of Ireland. On an Irish radio show that aired on Wednesday, while the bodies in Paris were still warm, he said:
“I am a great advocate of freedom of expression.”
And immediately, the vacillations and qualifications began.
But I encourage freedom of expression that does not give room for confrontation, that does not turn one person against another. I encourage people to live in harmony and peace and respect each other. If they want to have a good sense of humor, do have it within the boundaries of what people can understand.
Was that the problem with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons? They were just too hard to grasp? Interesting.
It’s not his style to merely appeal to journalists, editors, and bloggers who wish to republish the Charlie cartoons, Selim explained. He wants to sue them into compliance.
When asked by Niall Boylan on 4FM if he (Boylan) retweeted the cartoon would his life be in danger, Dr. Selim – who condemned the shootings – said: “Not your life would be in danger but definitely we will check the Irish law and if there is any legal channel against you, we will take it.”