When Freedom of Speech and Religious Freedom Collide

October 5, 2014

As Muslims in the west continue to experience anti-Muslim bigotry, a majority of Muslim countries continue to struggle with reigning in blasphemy laws. To fully understand the impact of the two incidents, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), spoke with the Director of the Washington, DC, Office Haris Tarin and Legal Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Asma Uddin about the Brookings Institute report they co-authored in 2013 called “Rethinking the ‘Red Line’: The Intersection of Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Social Change.” The report shed light on how Muslims in the west can evoke change and understanding through civil and legislative work.

“You're looking at anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Muslim sentiment and trying to address it from a civil society and faith based community perspective,” said Tarin. “So these types of responses we saw were a lot more effective and what it did, it brought community together, it brought community to become more cohesive, it strengthened democracy, and it actually brings people together.”

The discussion was then proceeded by a question and answer panel from avid listeners, professors and even receiving a praiseworthy comment about the inclusion of Muslims in inter-faith communities from Homi Gandhi, the vice president of the Federation of Zoroastrians of North America.

To conclude the discussion, both Tarin and Uddin stressed the importance of working with civil and legislative branches to address the political and democratic challenges of having freedom of speech and religious freedom coexisting with one another.

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