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Do Atheists have the right to offend Muslims?

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JP –

A cartoonist, unlike a a violent extremist, can innocently claim, “But these are just harmless cartoons, only a lunatic would take offence, let alone seek to ban them”. But make no mistake, cartoons are a political tool since the days of Thomas Nast, and they merit our intellectual attention.

Recently some atheists at the LSE Freshers day were asked by university authorities to remove T-shirts depicting the Prophets Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them both) sharing a beer together. Well, to be more exact, they were asked to remove “Jesus and Mo” cartoon t-shirts, where “Jesus” is depicted as a cartoon caricature of the real Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and “Mo” is ostensibly a ‘body double’ of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Such conflicts are proliferating, and present an interesting challenge to our democratic society in the UK: do atheists have the right to offend Muslims?

On the face of it, this may seem a simple question, and most people probably will start reading this article with a fixed opinion on the issue. But it’s actually a rather complicated question!

The European Convention of Human Rights guarantees freedom of expression in Article 10 of that Convention. However, like all fundamental rights, it recognises exceptions. Particularly relevant exceptions in this instance are for the purpose of preventing social disorder, of protecting morals, and protecting the reputation or the rights of others.


Additional Reading

Freedom of Speech: A Core Islamic Value!

A Critique of President Obama’s UN Speech

A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?

The Muslim Times’ Editor’s comments

Article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas, but allows restrictions for:

  • interests of national security
  • territorial integrity or public safety
  • prevention of disorder or crime
  • protection of health or morals
  • protection of the reputation or the rights of others
  • preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence
  • maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary


Posted by on October 8, 2013. Filed under ATHEISM,Christianity,Europe,Freedom,Islam. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

139 Responses to Do Atheists have the right to offend Muslims?

  1. Bashy Quraishy

    October 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    The answer is simple.
    No human being has the right to offend another person.
    When people ask me this question, I always ask;
    What purpose would it serve to offend 1.7 billion people?
    Would it bring peace, harmony and a better understanding?

    The answer is a resounding; NO.

  2. Raziya Mohamedali

    October 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

    One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. Therefore offensive ‘anything’, should NOT be allowed under the guise of freedom of expression.

    In fact, it is more hate mongering than so-called freedom of expression and therefore should be made illegal and a crime for it costs many lives.

  3. luke smith

    November 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Someone making light of beliefs isn’t hate mongering. It doesn’t cost a single life, I’ve yet to hear of an instance where some making a joke killed someone as opposed to writers being murdered because people didn’t like what they said. Grow a thicker skin and if you think people are spreading untruths then correct them. Silencing people solves nothing.

  4. David

    November 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    If my Ham & Cheese sandwich offends you because it mixes meat and a milk product, I am not the one causing you the offense. Nom, nomm..

  5. Mary

    November 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Political correctness is just another form of persecution.

    It is nearly impossible to go through life without offending someone, unless you are completely boring.

  6. Sol Invictus

    November 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    “No human being has the right to offend another person.”
    “offensive ‘anything’, should NOT be allowed”

    Are you people crazy?

    “In fact, it is more hate mongering than so-called freedom of expression and therefore should be made illegal and a crime for it costs many lives.”

    Are you serious? A cartoon is costing lives? Please tell me this is a joke. Your extreme reactions to criticism of a deeply questionable worldview are costing lives. Don’t push the blame onto the rational.

    You’re insane.

  7. James

    November 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    I’m offended every time some religious person tells me I’m going to hell, or that I can’t do something because it’s against their belief. What makes you so damn special? You know what offense is? Not my problem. How about you stop being a pussy and just ignore what someone says if it offends you? Or maybe just whine some more about how atheists are treading all over your religious freedoms.

  8. Christian

    November 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm


    I can’t offend you. You can’t offend me. I can choose to take offense at something you do or say (as I am right now), but it’s MY choice to “be offended”.

    Until you tell me, how am I supposed to know what you find offensive? Must I keep my mouth shut? I find that attitude extremely offensive.

    As Voltaire said “Monsieur l’abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”

    Now, if you tell me you find something offensive, and I then say or do that with the intent to cause you discomfort or pain, that’s harassment, assault, possibly even battery. But if I’m not attempting to cause you grief, then your offense is YOURS, not mine.

  9. hastherage

    November 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    “No human being has the right to offend another person.” Yet non-muslims allow the practice of Islam even though many of it’s ideas are offensive to them.

    “…should be made illegal and a crime for it costs many lives.” Who is taking these lives? Surely you cannot blame a cartoonist for the violence of those who do not like his drawings.

  10. Sol Invictus

    November 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Ah, okay. So my comment is awaiting moderation. How am I not surprised that this website does not allow dissenting opinions?

  11. Nate

    November 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    People have the right to wear cartoon caricatures of leprechauns, I fail to see the difference. Just because you worship something, does not mean that you have the right to make others treat it is sacred in some way. The debate is not about whether or not atheists have the right to offend you, it is about whether or not you have the right to silence others based on your religion.

  12. Andrew

    November 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I’m extremely offended when someone tries to convert me to their religion, or even worse, when they try to convert young children. It doesn’t matter if I am offended, however. It is their right to express their religion, just as it is my right to condemn it. Stop policing people, and focus on your own morals.

  13. Confused Comparisons

    November 22, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    while i understand the greater concern here, one person or group of persons offending another person/group and whether that is morally acceptable or not. the fact remains that there is a great deal about islamic religions that limit and in many cases simply stampede others freedoms. asking is it ok for you to offend a group of people who do their own fair share of offending is a moot question. morally i feel like actively trying to offend someone is reprehensible, however when you live in a glass house it’s best to keep the rock throwing to a minimum.

    Islamic countries happen to be amongst the most repressed and strife ridden regions of the world, and i would venture to say the two are likely related. in part because of the freedoms they are unwilling to grant, the inequality preached and accepted by those of the faith. one simply has to see how they treat and view the women of their society to see that this is not a freedom and equality loving religion, at least in some parts of the world.

    all in all i would say that if you want freedom to practice what you believe in, you must provide others the same exact right, else you may need to bare the weight of your hypocrisy.

  14. Lily

    November 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    If people aren’t allowed to offend others at all, then billions of religious people should be locked up for their belief that I’m better off dead than being myself as a transgender woman, and I should be locked up for existing in a manner that offends them. Basically taking that position to its logical extreme, everyone should be locked up because they offend someone else merely by existing.

  15. Douglas

    November 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Do Muslims (or Christians or Jews, or Zoroastrians, or any other religious people for that matter) have the right to offend an atheist (or people of any other religion)? If you are offended by the expression of free speech that is not “hate speech” then you are offended by the concept of free speech, not the content of that speech. That is offensive.

  16. Raya

    November 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Ummm, ok. The Koran offends me, so stop printing them. See how silly that sounds? Get over it.

  17. KinKAF

    November 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Tell me. EXACTLY what “right” ISLAM has to try and FORCE itself onto those who don’t want it ? What gives Islam the “right” to use murder and terror and even the legal systems to “offend” any that do not believe EXACTLY as you do (including other Muslims) ?

    Why are the actions and lies of Islam not considered offensive ? Islam is not, and NEVER has been a religion of “peace and tolerance” and it proves that EVERY day, yet you do not consider that offensive ?

    Only those who stand up to the terror, those who refuse to become slaves to ancient myths, those who chose NOT to believe as you do are considered offensive ?


    Religions themselves are offensive. Perhaps that is why they are the LEADING cause of war and strife on this planet.

    ANY religion that condones and even advocates violence against any non-believers is offensive.

    ANY person that supports and tries to justify such actions is just as guilty of the crimes as the ones doing them.

    Your question should have been “Do RELIGIONS have the right to offend ANYONE ?”

    But I’m guessing that would have been too honest of a question for you to ask.

  18. Andreas Egeland

    November 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    The article is correct, the issue is complex and intricate. I have often considered to myself whether I am just being strident and annoying in intentionally offending those who hold that there are limits on my freedom of expression.
    The question is very important to, say, cases of hate speech and bullying, where you can make the empathic case that we should punish those who do so.
    However, the question in and of itself is simple. Atheists should be allowed to offend Muslims, because to take offence is pragmatically something we cannot constantly be aware of nor is it right to punish those who speak out against you, even in satire, such as the Jesus and Mo cartoons. As the article correctly claims, cartoons are often a political tool, and so should be treated as such. No criticism should ever be silenced merely for being criticism, and this is why atheists have the right to offend Muslims, because Muslims, and indeed everyone, has the right to offend everyone else through these same means.
    When we, for example, make cartoon depictions it is true that this is a grave offence to a Muslim and religiously forbidden. However, I am under no obligation to adhere to your religious rules (freedom of religion goes both ways). I did draw Muhammad for one simple reason: to protest those who believe that I should be punished for violating a religious mandate that I did not adhere to. It may have caused offence, but it was a political message and a criticism. And to silence those who speak against you simply for speaking against you harms us all.

  19. Rik Bailey

    November 22, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Well if its perfectly fine for Muslim cartoonists to mock Jews and other religions then I don’t see how you can stand all high and mighty when others mock yours.

    For example:




    As Stephen Fry said: “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so fucking what.”

  20. Tom

    November 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    I suppose it’s ok for Muslims to offend the rest of the world, as they often do? The Quran is filled with offensive statements about non-believers…

    IMO, taking offense is an egotistical, selfish, self-centered judgement. When one is offended they should look within, not accuse or seek to control others.

    So yes, atheists have a right to say whatever they like, as do Muslims. Who is to judge whether a Muslim calling non-believers infidels or an atheist calling believers fools are “offending”? Nobody can make an objective judgement, so it’s none of anyone’s business.

  21. bob

    November 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    The comments above defending islam are nonsense, The answer is an unqualified yes…to bad if someone gets offended. I find it offensive that muslims treat women like dirt. As I am fond of saying I am against all religions, all of them… I do not believe in freedom of religion, I believe in freedom from religion.

  22. Stian A-Jensen

    November 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Yes, offending people should not be done on purpose ofc, but EVERYONE “have the right” to offend everyone, What are you afraid of? ohh he offended me.. so? whats gonna happen now? you gonna loose your job? die? loose money?… ohh nothing, I see. Nothing will happen.. beeing offended is not dangerous, and its totaly subjective, what offends me might not offend you and so on.. how is this law going to be enforced? Just to mention it, It offends me that people get pushed into religion before they are old enough to choose and never realy get a choise of what religion they get pushed into.


  23. John Parenteau

    November 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    It is posited above that “No human being has the right to offend another person.” Sorry, but I non-concur.

    However, it is almost a guarantee that just about anything I say will offend SOMEONE. If I say that Muslims are right and Christians are wrong, some Christian somewhere will take offence. And vice versa. So, since it is almost impossible to speak without offending SOMEONE SOMEWHERE, claiming that “No human being has the right to offend another person” is tantamount to saying “No person has the right to speak.”

    The “right” not to be offended is incompatible with free speech. In a free society, free speech wins.

    More in line with Free Speech: No one has the right not to be offended by what others say. You’re offended. Well tough luck.

  24. Uboinik

    November 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Mmhmm… Now let’s talk about those Muslims in Britain and Belgium shouting “SHARIA FOR EUROPE!”. Here’s what: Christians offend a lot of people, Muslims offend a lot of people, heathens offend a lot of people, atheists offend a lot of people. Accept the fact that nobody is entitled to a privileged position and get over it.

  25. Rational Thinker

    November 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Of course they can.

    The mere question is ridiculous. Everybody is in control of their own actions, reactions, responses, and feelings. In order to be offended, you must allow yourself to be offended. This is completely subjective to an individual. Instead of punishing an “atheist” for “offending” somebody, why doesn’t the offended change their reactions. If they quit being offended, there would never be an issue.

    Why segregate Muslims and atheists how about all the other groups that get offended? What about the gays, the seniors, the women, the Christians, the atheists, the Jews, the Germans, the blacks, the Mormons. All of them get offended in one way or another by each other. Bottom line, the ones that do, are all pussies. They have grown up thinking their beliefs are the only ones out there, and that the world will cater to them. You can believe in a God and still get along with the world. Laugh at a cartoon of Mohammad sucking a cock, it’s not going to hurt you.

    We all have control of ourselves, stop putting the blame on others. Offensive does not exist in my book. Grow some balls.

  26. Ray Whiting

    November 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    It is still to say or do something JUST for the sake of offending others or hurting their feelings. But one should not be compelled to withhold their own genuine thoughts or beliefs simply because expressing them might offend others. Many people believe in a god or gods. I do not, and it harms no one for me to say so. If I insist that others must not believe, that would be just as offensive as if someone insisted that I must believe. I would not tell someone to stop believing, and I will not allow others to tell me I must start believing.

  27. Ray Whiting

    November 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    That should be: “It is silly…” not “It is still”

  28. Jerrod

    November 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Stupid ideas should be mocked.

  29. star maker

    November 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    So if the two previous commenter’s offended me, they should be held accountable for my feelings and emotions. You BOTH have offended me! …see how quickly your logic becomes ridiculous?

  30. Mr Andrew M Halmay

    November 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Under the US constitution, we have the right to offend… anyone. However, to what purpose? To answer an offense with another offense is childish. It doesn’t raise the tone of the conversation, and only fans the fires of hate.

  31. Anon

    November 22, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Let’s turn it round – do Muslims have the right to offend atheists by ridiculing their belief that there are no gods? You can’t have it both ways. You are only offended by a cartoon of Mohammed because the Koran says you should be. If you’re not a Muslim, you’re not breaking any rules by drawing such a cartoon. You can’t hold non-Muslims to Sharia law, because you are then denying people the same rights you want for yourself.

  32. Calum

    November 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    You people are disgusting. Offending people does not cost lives and I read your comment as a threat.

    It’s time the infants that moan about being offended grew up. Healthy normal people WELCOME having their worldview challenged or mocked and laughed at. It’s called a sense of humour.

    And I claim my right to offend. What purpose does it serve to offend 1.7billion people? Peace and harmony perhaps not but it certainly gives us a better understanding of how poorly educated people can care TOO much (enough to kill others) about their religion.

  33. sean grover

    November 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Oh please I’m sure these all powerful beings can look after themselves . Do they really need you to get offended?
    Please get over yourselve?s atheists don’t kill anyone cos they don’t agree with them reflect!!!

  34. Jared Watkins

    November 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    What happens when we flip the issue? Do Muslims have a right to offend atheists? If I find your very belief structure offensive, does that mean that you should not be allowed to practice it?

    Obviously, the answer is no. Tolerance and acceptance are two very different things. I tolerate the fact that others have different beliefs. Practice your superstition as you see fit, so long as it doesn’t harm me. And in return, don’t get so uptight about what I choose to make fun of.

    And please remember that if you’re feelings are hurt by a cartoon, you should stop talking. This is an adult discussion, and if you’re that emotionally unstable, you obviously have the emotional maturity of a child.

  35. Brian

    November 22, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of religion (even though I consider belief in the supernatural to be the source of all evil). You can believe in any
    superstition you want and I can make fun of it. If your religion can’t handle
    critiques and WORDS spoken against it, you must have a weak god. You can make fun of my interests all you want. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to listen.
    I don’t run around trying to get some group together to shut you down because I have strength of character and your words CAN NOT hurt me.
    Have a nice day!

  36. Chris

    November 22, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    So, if we don’t want civil unrest then we better change our lives so Muslims aren’t offended.

    Problem is, everything non Islamic offends Muslims.

  37. Dean (@TheDudeInSF)

    November 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    No one’s subjective beliefs should have ANY authority over other people that don’t share them. (peace be upon them)

  38. Eric P. Metze

    November 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Of course people have the right to offend each other. To say otherwise is ridiculous. That doesn’t mean that people should actively offend another person, but if someone offends you then let it go. Because otherwise you are empowering that person. If you can rise above your feeling of being offended you are in a higher intellectual plane than the person that seeks to offend you. Remember, telling someone they cannot do something because it offends you just gives them the tools to do so. Ignore offensive people or you become their puppets.

  39. Jess

    November 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    You can be offended about literally anything. But being offended doesn’t give you the right to silence another person.

    A person cannot MAKE you feel offended. A person can’t MAKE you feel anything. You are responsible for your own feelings/emotions.

    “It’s now very common to hear people say, ‘I’m rather offended by that.’ As if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more… than a whine. ‘I find that offensive.’ It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. ‘I am offended by that.’ Well, so … what.” – Stephen Fry

  40. Bob

    November 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Bashy and Raziya,
    The answer is not really so simple. It only seems simple when you consider it from one side of the question, as you are doing. As an atheist, I am offended by Islam (and every other theist religion) as affronts to logic and impediments to human progress and dignity. Should open expressions of Islamic faith be banned because it offends me (and many other people)? Of course not. Because, in fact, we do have the right to offend people. My taste in music may offend you, and vice versa. My opinion of domestic politics, and my preferred political party, offend the other half of my nation, and vice versa. Without the prospect of giving offense, we can not address contentious issues in the hope of changing opinions and resolving them. There would be no prospect of an open and democratic polity without the prospect of giving offense.
    If you attempt to look at the question not *solely* as a Muslim, but also as a citizen of a world that is a complex of competing interests, you must, I think (I hope) agree that giving offense is inevitable and cannot be banned without imposing unacceptable constraints on the whole of society.

  41. Rob

    November 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    The nature of free speach is that it must be free. People will say things that upset you. But in the public market place of ideas, we rightly laugh at bigots and ask for more information on new ideas that use logic to form a valid point. Oscar Wilde once said: ‘I will fight to the death for the right for your to make a complete ass of youself’. I am an Athiest, but I will never allow the suppression of what others want to say or believe.

  42. Calum

    November 22, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    What Raziya wrote doesn’t even make basic logical sense.

    For example, I am offended by Raziya’s comments above. Therefore according to Raziya’s own views she is ‘more hatemongering’ and her actions should be illegal…

    So as you should all now be able to clearly see that Raziya’s badly thought out law can be used to stop her even creating the law in the first place (because I am offended). Now can you see how stupid this is? We NEED to be able to offend people. It is part of being human

  43. Jack

    November 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    As someone who doesn’t believe as you do, your comments are sincerely offensive to me. Should I allow you your freedom of expression, or should I label it and make it illegal?

    I wonder what your advice to me would be?

  44. Samuel Needleman

    November 22, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    A moslem public figure, Louis Farakhan, speaking before a national audience, once insulted me and all Jews by calling Judaism a “…dirty, little religion…”
    There was palpable hatred on his face and in his voice.

    Not one Jew–or anyone else–rioted, threatened him with violence or death, or otherwise descended into insanity–as moslems are wont to do.

    It may be wrong to offend someone–although if it is unintentional it is not an offense of great magnitude. Verbal offenses that are intended–like Farakhan’s–are surely wrong, although people who have behaved horribly (like terrorists) can be appropriately offended.

    What is ABSOLUTELY wrong is ethnocentric violence and terror. It is reprehensible and obscene, and dwarfs verbal and written criticism or ridicule in magnitude.

    Can moslems ever learn to understand this?

  45. Mike Wolgamott

    November 22, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    You don’t have a right to not be offended. What if I were to say prayer rugs, or crucifixes offend me? Would you then relinquish them to private, home only use? That answer is a resounding no. Religious persons always form an absolute dichotomy, where they block off opposing points of view because of their “offensive nature” but, shove their Bronze Age fairy tales down everyone’s throats and demand that it be respected.

    Just because you can’t handle free speech doesn’t mean you are free to impede it.

    ‘It’s now very common to hear people say, “I’m rather offended by that”, as if that gives them certain rights. It’s no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. “I’m offended by that.” Well, so f****** what?’ —Stephen Fry

  46. Clayton Benedict

    November 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    You being offended is not my problem. If I offend you and you go on a rampage and kill people. The people that have died are not my fault. I wish you religious idiots (Christians included) would get some self responsibility and leave everyone alone.

  47. Calum

    November 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    One person’s freedom ending where the another persons freedom begins is quite good but you are missing one important fact. Offending someone is not taking away their freedom.
    However telling someone they can’t say something is taking away freedom. That’s why in countries of the world that are free we have free expression and you don’t have to limit it because someone is offended because offending someone isn’t taking away freedom.

    Also Bashy… what HARM could it do to offend 1.7billion people? And I don’t mean them carrying out acts of violence. Because that is then the violent people that has caused the harm.

  48. Jack

    November 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    @ Bashy Quraishy
    Every human has the right to offend another person.
    It’s not right. But, I should not be punished for saying, you’re a piece of shit.
    Secondly, What you deem offensive is different from what I deem offensive
    I see Jesus, and Mohammad sharing a Beer.
    What I see is a cartoon, of two people, being friendly, and peaceful.
    I’m not sure where the offensiveness comes into play. Unless its the whole “don’t consume alcohol”
    Which is stupid, and if you take that offensive, then I pity you, for being such a sensitive person.

  49. Neurotic Knight

    November 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    Well, you have a right to be offended, i have a right to offend. Simple as that, it is not illegal for you to wear a t-shirt mocking atheism is it. If facts and reality hurt, one could always stay at home. My rights are mine, i wear what i want, i say what i like, i am not going to be censored by others and neither should you be.

  50. Kevin

    November 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    If we can’t offend Muslims, then you cannot offend us by trying to change our laws to suit yourselves, or trying to promote Sharia Law which is and always will be incompatible with Western democracy. Your religion and prophet and his words also offend us. From the ill treatment of woman, stoning of homosexuals, having sex with children.After you give up all of that than we will stop offending Islam, in the meantime we will continuously criticize and offend Islam.

  51. Devin

    November 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Sure lets just ban everything anyone finds offensive im sure there will be tons to do.

  52. Piotr

    November 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    The answer is simple. You may offend and caricaturate whatever idea you want, but you may not offend people. Showing Mohamed with a 9 year old girl or anything like that, is ridiculing the IDEA not living individuals.

  53. Brian

    November 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    The problem with ‘offensive anything’ not being allowed is that everything, literally everything, offends someone.

    The restriction on depictions is, unfortunately,

    A: Not something the average non-Moslem can easily wrap their head around.

    B: An easy target for those who seek to mock.

    Violent responses only spur further examples of the offense, for the simple reason that it gets a reaction. Some people just can’t wrap their head around the fact that it is a tenet of the Islamic religion that they’re poking at like some open sore.

  54. Cletus

    November 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    Respect for people must be earned by said person.

    Beliefs do NOT.

  55. maz

    November 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    How about we reverse this question. Do theists have the right to offend atheists? Or how about do wolves have to kill sheep? This entire question is absolutely silly in my opinion. Everyone has the right to free thought no matter what it is.

    Believe in what ever you want to. It don’t bother me none. Shove your beliefs down my throat and then we’re gonna have to tussle. Thems just the bricks of the matter. I won’t make you believe something you don’t and I expect the same in return.

    If you don’t want to be offended there’s only two ways of making that happen. Become a hermit or just die. Sorry but not everyone in the world is going to agree with everyone on everything. So why even worry about it?

    Does a drawing of something truly offend one so much that there has to be protests, riots or bombs going off over it? Absolutely not. Get off the high horses and realize that everyone is just a person, exactly like you are. It’s really not that damn hard.

  56. Atheist

    November 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Well, let’s make the question more universal: do I have a right to express an opinion if it might offend some other person?
    If we answer yes, than the same answer applies to the question you’ve asked – yes, atheists have the right to offend muslims.

    Now if we answer no, everything get much more complicated. You see, there’s a very real chance, that ANY opinion will offend someone. In fact I feel quite offended by this article, as it implies that it is acceptable to limit my rights to the free speech. So do you have the right to publish such articles which I find offensive? In fact, I believe that yes, you have. I am consistent in my views, that freedom of expression cannot be limited just because somebody dislikes what you are saying or finds it “offensive”.
    Now if you think that it is acceptable to limit the freedom of speech in order not to offend anyone, then you have to agree that you do not have right to publish this article which offends me. Unless of course you choose not to be consistent and think that muslims deserve special treatment and special protection of their feelings while everybody’s else feelings can be offended at will. But you will probably agree that this is not a strong position to defend.

  57. Ken Younos

    November 22, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I’m an atheist, and I find the Qur’an offensive. how about we ban the Qur’an from publication? Then I will stop offending Muslims. That sounds like a good compromise to me. What do you think?

  58. Mike de Fleuriot

    November 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Freedom of expression is only a threat to those who would restrict discussion and criticism. Who do the religious think they are, not to have their opinions questioned and discussed? Without such discussion, how would you know that your views are correct, or are you just going on the authority of someone who is beyond question? How do you know that person is beyond question and not some crazy person who’s point of view is harmful to society? If you question the opinion of anyone then you have to allow all opinions to be questioned. If you can not do that, then you have to remove yourself from the debate.

    “If your faith can move mountains, then it should be able to withstand critism ”
    — Ruben2287

  59. Rudy

    November 22, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    I think its ok when someone is making a point. e.g. if someone cannot even have an open debate about a specific religion without getting death threats, you should take a look at your religeon.

    Their is no right to be not offended because you cannot control if someone will be offended or not.

    This person inst trolling to piss Muslims and Christians off, he is trying to bring to society how serious and crazy these two religions are becoming in society. Just Look at america and look at alsharia law.

  60. shaun shaun

    November 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    So, nothing can be said against islam, or question its ethics ,and motives.
    Thats astounding, you cant even believe in your own religion, and are not willing to let it be tested with questions.
    Rayiza is so concerned, that he would have any words against islam to be hate mongering…made illegal, and a crime. WHAT ?
    Words scare you that much?,,is your god really damaged by little words?

    Another simple example…i see claims of “peace, harmony and a better understanding”…expressed in a way, to lay claim that islam makes these things happen…..and yet, in the article from this site


    quote “If you reject this invitation, then the sin of the denial of all your people will rest on your head.”

    Thats a direct threat to the people of the land…”you dump your god, follow mine, or all your people will suffer anything i say my god told me”

    Not exactly “peace, harmony and better understanding”

    Once you can read you own book, and admit to its good and bad parts, then you can at least defend the inevitable questions that arise, and have answers that you believe. You will not convince others till you have convinced yourself.

  61. jt

    November 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Why is being offensive the requirement for if something should or should not be allowed. Who choses what merits offence? If there is a religious view offensive to an atheist, would that be stopped? Freedom of expression does not negatively impact another person any more than a different favorite color.
    Why focus on limiting ideas, thoughts, and speech. Unless one group is physically assaulting another, let the debate rage on. Regardless of whose side your on, limiting free speech is only done to suppress an idea.

  62. TedTheAtheist

    November 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Bashy said: “The answer is simple.”

    ^^ It is, but it’s not the answer you’re going to like.

    You said: “No human being has the right to offend another person.”

    ^^ Being offended is a choice YOU make. Nobody can MAKE you offended by something. That’s something YOU choose to do. Every person has the right to EXPRESS themselves ANY WAY THEY LIKE. If you take offense to something, that is YOUR fault.

    You said: “When people ask me this question, I always ask;
    What purpose would it serve to offend 1.7 billion people?
    Would it bring peace, harmony and a better understanding?”

    ^^ Yes, exposing the truth would help EVERYONE on the planet! How do we get to the truth? Via logic and reason – by using critical thinking. If you posit imaginary friends that you think live in the sky, and you tell me or others about it so that we can hear you, then it’s our DUTY as contributing members of society to call you OUT on them.. to tell you that you’re wrong, and ridicule your beliefs if necessary (if you don’t understand that you’re wrong and why).

    You said: “The answer is a resounding; NO.”

    ^^ Nope, the answer is “YES”, we DO have the right to say anything we’d like. Deal with it.

  63. Brittany Adams

    November 22, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    I find your offense at being offended offensive. …

  64. Teufel Wolf

    November 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm


  65. Clown To The Left

    November 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    A better question is: “Does following a specific religion grant one the right to be offended, and if so… does merely being offended grant one the right to dictate the actions (or demand inaction) of others?”

  66. Ian

    November 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    people get offended at all sorts of things. if we were to start banning things on the basis that they cause offence we would have no freedoms left at all. there’s a simple thing to do if something offends you, don’t seek it out, don’t read it, in the case of websites don’t increase traffic to it either. or you could deal with the fact that your offended in a mature way, accept that it is their right and move on realising that your offence is only your opinion and that you likely do say or have some things that offend them in return.

  67. Eddie Hoover

    November 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Of course we do. If your god is so powerful, certainly he can withstand a little mocking. Nobody has the right to not be offended. If you don’t want to be offended, try not having such ridiculous beliefs!

  68. Allshare.in

    November 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    i think koran should be banned in that case, as it offends jews, christians and atheists in particular and all other religions in general

  69. Ammk

    November 22, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    do muslims have the right to offend me?

  70. TedTheAtheist

    November 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Exactly! If Muslims talk about their gods, and say it in a way to imply that we all should, are they NOT insulting my intelligence, because I know better?

    Couldn’t THAT be deemed reasonably offensive?

  71. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    November 22, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Ted: Muslims talk about their ONE god.

  72. Benjamin Brčina

    November 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    I would love to buy this t-shirt. Does anyone know if there are t-shirts with mohammed???

  73. TedTheAtheist

    November 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    @Rafiq: Irrelevant whether it’s one or a ton of them, like in Greece.

    It’s all made up.

    They might as well be talking about their “one unicorn”.

    The point is that just because they believe in something, doesn’t mean that it’s free from ridicule.

    If they can talk about their imaginary friends in the sky, then we can talk about how irrational their imaginary friends in the sky are.

    If they think it’s wrong for them to be offended, then we should also be able to say it’s wrong for the rest of us to be offended. Since we will all pretend or will actually be offended, then the answer is not for anyone to not say anything, but for ALL OF US to be able to say whatever we want.

    We control what we are offended by. You can choose not to read or listen to something. We all have to afford each other our own voices.

    However, just because you have a belief about how the world works, doesn’t mean that it should be respected.
    If you make scientific conclusions, and they are wrong, then your conclusions should be mocked.

    People are allowed to have their own opinions, but not their own facts.

  74. Till

    November 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    I often feel offended by the preposterous “truths” and “values” of so-called “holy books”. If some (!) Muslims cannot stand other people’s opinions about their beliefs it is their problem.

  75. Rod

    November 23, 2013 at 12:02 am

    If the offence is being offended then you need to think about how ridiculous that argument is. Some people have lost their lives and there have been genocides against people who have “offended” others by their mere presence. “I am offended” is the justification for violence by the intolerant to justify violence actions against others. Islamic passive aggression and perceived victim hood is doing more to demonize and damage it especially among their own followers than anything else. What we are seeing seems more like the death throes of Islam than a reawakening. The whole religion is being taken over by gangs of thugs – good luck trying to rein them in.

  76. NSM

    November 23, 2013 at 12:17 am

    If all hate speech were banned, there would be no quran and so this question would never arise

  77. Richard

    November 23, 2013 at 12:28 am


    I’m an atheist. In fact, I’d probably say I’m an anti-theist if I really felt like it.

    But, fundamentally, I cannot be offended by a cartoon. It is, after all, a picture. A drawing. A visual expression of someone’s opinion. Being a level headed adult, I can look at it and decide for myself the meaning, the intent. And, if I cannot determine the intent (maybe I don’t have the same frame of reference, or an understanding of the “in joke”), then I can at least examine the artistic skill. And come to my own conclusion upon the quality of the artist and maybe some understanding on how the artist thinks.

    But be offended? How? The things I believe in are mine. I know them. They are part of me. It has taken me decades to come to understand them and accept them and sometimes accept that whilst I may not know everything about them, I can reason them and come to a place where I can argue in their favour.

    I cannot get offended by a cartoon. But I DO get offended by actions. By people killing, raping, abusing. Not cartoons.

    And I get offended by religion. As an atheist, I firmly believe that religion IS a mass delusion. It is poorly tuned social engineering and a taxation system.

    Do people get comfort from their gods? Most definitely. But I get that from reading a good book (not THE good book), or listening to quality musicians.

    As to the question “Do atheists have the right to offend muslims?”, I would have to answer no. Of course not. It is a blatantly stupid question to ask.

    But, “Do muslims have the right to kill atheist simply because some muslims are too small minded and cannot cope with living in a grown up world where there will be opposing ideologies and where Islam is considered nothing more than a backward religion that should be consigned to the history books?”, well, again, I would say no.

    Basically, for an atheist, like me, religion seems to be nothing more than the last gasp of the dark ages, trying to hold us back to a time when no one knew anything and a few had the political control. And rather than growing up and adapting to the world, we see religious fundamentalism using violence to intimidate and terrorise those that have moved on.

    And, for a western atheist like me, we see Islamic fundamentalism at the forefront of this terrorism. And so, we point, we laugh, we ridicule. We will do this. And do it willingly. Because we know that believing in Allah, Jehova, Satan, Zeus, Thor is absolutely no different to believing in Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, Harry Potter, Narnia.

    There is NO differentiation.

    Now. If you want to talk political grievances? Well. Now we have something to talk about. Israel? What the hell are they doing on what is historically arabic land? USA aggression? Way to go in helping make the world a safer and saner place.

    Which sky daddy to believe in? It is of no consequence to me what you delude yourself with. Just as long as your beliefs don’t lead to the mass murder of innocent men, women and children.

    “Do muslims have the right to kill atheists?”

    Absolutely not!

  78. Hey hey

    November 23, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Usually atheists don’t offend muslims (nor anyone). But people tend to get offended when others express their opinions.

    As any religious person has the right to express his belief in a god, an atheist has the right to express his disbelief. Be it in the street, through comics, or whatever. People have the right to say anything they want. If you don’t like it, you can say that too.

  79. John Taylor

    November 23, 2013 at 1:56 am

    The question is not so much of offending others due to their religious beliefs, the real question is
    “Do we have the RIGHT to tell the TRUTH?”

    It is not our fault if Muslims are offended by the truth. That is their fault.

    Claiming that the founder of one religion would get along with the founder of another religion that claimed to worship the same god … that is not hateful or incorrect.

    Pointing out the failures in religious teachings is also reasonable. If they truly worship a god of peace, then they will re-look at unworthy teachings to see if their interpretation of the texts can be improved.

    In my view, we not only have the RIGHT to tell the TRUTH, we also nave an obligation to tell the TRUTH, even when the truth is unwelcome in religious circles.

  80. Mike Haubrich

    November 23, 2013 at 2:55 am

    The core belief of Islam is “submit to Allah.” I find that incredibly offensive. Do I have the right to demand that Islam be banned or persecuted because of that? I find it offensive that Islam was used to conquer Northern Africa, Southern Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Southern Europe and people were compelled to “submit” or die. I find it offensive that Jews are treated as second-class citizens in Muslim Countries and that the Saudis teach their children to hate Jews. I find it offensive that women are forced to cover themselves so that men don’t rape them. I find it offensive that a class of children caused enough hurt to inspire a riot when they named a stuffed bear “Muhammad.” I find it offensive that Muslim cabdrivers thought it was their right not to give rides to people who had alcohol in their luggage, or the blind people who were accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. I find it offensive that an atheist was jailed in Turkey for writing a blog post critical of Islam. And yet, I have not called for the beheading of any Muslim because of this. I have not called for a riot, or advocated the murder of any filmmakers, or authors because of “offense.” Offense is one of those things that adults learn to deal with, and if Islam creates infantile behavior because it teaches submission then it perhaps has no place in secular society. I take offense at several of the positions taken by Jews, Christians and the wealthy, too just so Muslims who read this don’t think I reserve my offense for them.

  81. Richard

    November 23, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Reading above … “A moslem public figure, Louis Farakhan, speaking before a national audience, once insulted me and all Jews by calling Judaism a “…dirty, little religion…”
    There was palpable hatred on his face and in his voice.”

    In the UK, there are more Jedis than Jews. And when, as an atheist, I hear someone say “but Jedi is a made up religion”, I just hang my head in shame and think “How on earth am I of the same species?!?”.

  82. Zia Shah

    November 23, 2013 at 3:39 am

    European Convention of Human Rights
    I think many of the issues that my atheist brothers and sisters are raising are already tackled in the Article 10 of European Convention of Human Rights.
    This Article provides the right to freedom of expression, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”. This right includes the freedom to hold opinions, and to receive and impart information and ideas, but allows restrictions for:

    interests of national security
    territorial integrity or public safety
    prevention of disorder or crime
    protection of health or morals
    protection of the reputation or the rights of others
    preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence
    maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary

    We would certainly need the best legal minds humanity can offer to give concrete and legalistic details of the above exceptions that may be acceptable to people of all faiths, ethnicities and nationalities.

    If the Supreme Court Justices do not come to our rescue, may be a good and an accomplished writer can help out with a best selling book. But, the key is to at least, win the moderates, in all the established religions of the world and among the agnostics and atheists.

    Any takers?

  83. Atheistknitter

    November 23, 2013 at 4:58 am

    There is no such thing as the right never to be offended. Any rational person can find a dozen things that offend her deeply every time she opens the newspaper. If your world is so free of injustice, racism, economic exploitation, war, and poverty that you have nothing real to be offended about and have to resort to being upset about cartoons, give thanks to your god and leave the rest of us alone.

  84. Paul Perry

    November 23, 2013 at 5:02 am

    The logical outcome of this argument is that if people choose to act violently when they are offended they can claim that it is the people exercising their right of free expression who are causing the violence. This is an insane and unjustifiable argument. You choose both whether something offends you and how you react to that offence. The first is irrelevant and if you cannot or will not control the second you do not deserve to be part of a civil society.

  85. David

    November 23, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I am offended when I see Muslims carrying flags saying ‘behead those who I insult Islam’ or ‘ British troops are murderers’….but do I try to kill them for doing that? …no I just groan inwardly at their stupidity and get on with my life. A cartoon of your special imaginary prophet doesn’t hurt anyone…get over it.

  86. Mike de Fleuriot

    November 23, 2013 at 6:23 am

    The key is to actually become tolerant and open minded, something that the religious are unable to do, because of the fact that they are religious. Religion provides answers that must not be questioned. If this was not so, then it would not be religion, but open enquiry. An example: I doubt that the Islamic prophet Mohammed actually heard an angel telling him to read. I suggest that it is more likely that he was thinking about his own lack of being able to read. For my statement to be shown as false, all that needs to be done is to present to the public an angel for us to examine. Most Muslims would be offended by this, and the reason is mentioned above, in that they are religious and not allowed to question their beliefs.

  87. Daniel

    November 23, 2013 at 7:11 am

    I am offended by your article. Shall we remove it?

  88. Pingback: Do Atheists Have the Right to Offend Muslims?

  89. Ahmadi Muslim

    November 23, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I think the following book very comprehensively speaks on this subject. Please do read this book through the link below. Peace be with you all.


  90. Fayyaz Shah

    November 23, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Would anyone help enlighten us if there are any limitations to what one can say.

    I hope we’ll all agree that making a false allegation on my parents that will impact my reputation and will cause me financial hardship, is not right and such an allegation should be challanged in a court.

    Do we agree on this?

  91. Ghulam Sarwar

    November 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Yes, nobody should make false allegation against any one and then there will be no one hurt and no need to go to the court. Everybody cannot go to the court for redress.

    There should be limits on what one can say and do. There are clear limits on what one can do. Every one is liable to be punished for bad deeds, here in this world, and in the next life too.

    Too much of everything spoils the show, same goes for too much liberty. The governments make laws to control things and keeps them in right direction. They should make laws to allow every one to say what they like except any foul (bad smelling) words about any one.
    Socrates also said that too much liberty brings down the democratic govenment. Too much love of money brings down the government of the Oligarchy (Few rich persons). (See “The Republic”)
    Open abuse, in the form of poem or article or cartoons should be prohibited.

    Mike de Fleuriot has asked to show an angel. There are many things that are believed but cannot be shown. That includes imaginary things (of physics, reactance) as well as of feelings. Let us say, love, hatred and happiness, sorrow, pain. There is a realm of abstract world.
    Allah is the Rabb of all things, worlds, planets, galaxies, diseases, cures, theories, trees, typhoons, rust and dust, they were created and Allah has made laws for them to exist and progress. It includes all living things and dead non-living things, bodies and souls. Nothing is excluded. He is the Rabb of the beliefs and the believers and the Rabb of the agnostaics and disbelievers, atheists, helps them to live and progress.

    It is not necessary to see the God Almighty. Moses a.s. wanted to see God. He got a big shock by the flash and became senseless. There are limits to everything. There is no need to want to see God. When some one will see God, he will say “I want to catch God”,,, and so on,,,,

    Atheists are basically wrong in their beliefs. So we let it be for them. They can continue in their ways peaceflly. No harm to the believers. It is no use encroaching upon the rights of the believers. It is better that believers and non-believers behave in good manner. If there is anything that the atheists want to teach, to prove to the believers, it is alright. They are welcome. But no need to approach from the wrong side. No need to abuse.

  92. Matthew

    November 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    This should not just be about Muslims. You can include other religions too. Beliefs are ideas and I believe in the contest of them. Nothing is sacred, no idea should be protected from criticism and ridicule. This is the pinnacle of freedom. Islam has a long way to go with regards to this.

  93. Matthew

    November 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I’m pretty offended by the three monotheistic faiths, however I’d never argue they ought to shut up. I hate religion, but I still believe in religious freedom. This, of course, can only be guaranteed under a secular, pluralist democracy. A lot of people, particularly on the left (my camp) fail to distinguish between race and religion and interpret criticism of the latter (towards Islam) as the former. This is absurd as race is not an idea nor a choice one makes, so criticism towards an individual because of their race is no different to criticising a mentally disabled person. In which case would be morally disgraceful. However, religions are ideas with a set of proposed values, assertions and truth claims and therefore open to discussion, debate, criticism, etc.

  94. George

    November 23, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    No one has the ‘right’ to not ever /be/ offended. That way lies madness.

    However, we should have the right to say when something is offensive, to discuss, to reach a shared path. We should NOT have the right to say that the offender should be banned, shunned, punished, or killed.

    THAT right is up to God.

    When a society develops a ‘thin skin’ to offensive, seditious, or otherwise negative thoughts, speech, or action, then that society soon develops into an oppressive, punitive regime, fueled by anger, hate, and intolerance, and the people living under it suffer. When a society develops tolerance and understanding (even of those that are different, who ‘do not believe’) ideas are explored and exchanged, and everyone benefits.

    I would expect that everyone of all faiths keep two things close to them at all times: Their sense of empathy, and their sense of humor. If you go out without these things, you’ll probably come home in a bad mood.

  95. Freedom of speech doesnt protect anyone from being offended

    November 23, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    NO ONE has the RIGHT to NOT be OFFENDED. Life in the west got ya down???? Theres a quick fix…. go to BACK TO the middle east where no one is offended but millions are SLAUGHTERED.

  96. EE

    November 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Sorry, this is silly. You’ve asked the wrong question. The question REALLY is “Does anybody have the right to have a different opinion than I do and to speak it openly” which, sorry, the answer is absolutely yes.

    Being offended is something happening inside of YOU. People have the right to speak their minds and say what they want. At least where I come from. And if you’re here, where I come from, then you’re going to have to respect my culture. And my culture allows anybody to voice their own opinions, whether through music, speech, art or otherwise. We are raised into mature adults that will LEAVE a situation that bothers us instead of trying to destroy anybody that doesn’t think exactly like us.

    If anything that goes against your personal beliefs offends you to the point where you FIRMLY BELIEVE they must be silenced, you have a serious problem. Not me. I’ll keep talking. Your problem doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

    Celebrate who you are. And I will celebrate who I am. And both of us can live together. If you can’t understand this, avoid me. If you want to live in harmony with me and all other people around you, then we can talk.

    Very simple.

  97. Freedom of speech doesnt protect anyone from being offended

    November 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Fayaz slander is prosecuted here. You cant say something untrue about someone, but its not like if you call someone fat who is skinny, that would be tossed out, if you called someone a child molester and they werent and you said it with the intent to csause problems for that person, you are libel. Being offended because someone calls your prophet false, or a pedophile wouldnt hold up here because you are free to say those things about any religion here. Being offended is not equal to being discriminated against. Clear that up for ya?

  98. Fayyaz Shah

    November 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    “EE” I agree with you. ““Does anybody have the right to have a different opinion than I do and to speak it openly” which, sorry, the answer is absolutely yes.”

    My point is that there is a difference between speaking openly about your opinion and slandering someone. “Freedome of Speech … ” made a good point that slander should be prosecuted. So my question is if someone slanders my father, who is not alive, could I prosecute that person?

  99. Valerie

    November 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    The moral priorities and exclusive truth claims made by Islam offend me. So do the moral priorities and exclusive truth claims made by Christianity and every other religion that sanctifies bigotry, cruelty, misogyny, or violence.

  100. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    November 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    offend or not to offend? I would put it this way: Nothing that you say about your own beliefs offends me. What can offend is when you comment on my belief (without sharing it). (Is that not a sensible guideline?)

  101. Ghulam Sarwar

    November 24, 2013 at 9:49 am

    From @EE:
    Sorry, this is silly. You’ve asked the wrong question. The question REALLY is “Does anybody have the right to have a different opinion than I do and to speak it openly” which, sorry, the answer is absolutely yes.
    The above is quite right. And two posts from Mathew and one from George is also good. And so on from other friends…

    There should be no bar on expressing an opinion or point of view peacefully without abusing any one. It should be remarks about own belief, not a curse on others. Let every one present the good points of their beliefs and not abuse others beliefs.

    It is absolutely necessary to have freedom of speech. That is to express opinion without slander. The opponents of that opinion should not react on that peaceful expression. They should not go on killing any one.
    That is exactly what happened in Makkah in years 610-620 A.D. The prophet expressed an opinion that there is only One God and that he was a messenger from that God. That was a peaceful message given with love to local people.
    But the polytheists of Makkah did not allow him to speak. The prophet Muhammad s.a.w.s. said to the local people “You say what you like and let me say what I like to speak.” The opponents of freedom of speech said, “We will say what we like but we will not allow you to say what you like.”

    That was the starting point of the struggle for Islam. It was a struggle for the freedom of speech, decent speech, some important matter.

    Because of severe opposition to freedom of speech, the matter developed into persecution and migration and wars. Had the people of Makkah not opposed the freedom of speech, there may not have been any wars at all and the matter would have gone to its (same) logical end peacefully.

    It is an article of faith for all Muslims to respect the religious heads of all faiths and to allow every one to follow the faith of their choice freely, peaceflly and to express their good opinion about their own as well as others in a good manner. Not to unduly defame others.

    There should be freedom of speech but if any one will make bad use of that freedom, it will cause trouble and may require some censor (restriction)on that freedom.

  102. Mike de Fleuriot

    November 24, 2013 at 10:39 am

    There are many things that are believed but cannot be shown. That includes imaginary things (of physics, reactance) as well as of feelings. Let us say, love, hatred and happiness, sorrow, pain.

    NO, remember that there was once a time when we could not see air, but now moving air fast enough we can actually see it compressed into solid matter. The same applies to emotions, we can examine the human brain and see the electro-chemical reaction happening when these emotions are in play. Only a primitive mind would limit “seeing” to what is observed though the human eye.

    In fact, when you get down to anything science has discovered, there is a method for it to be observed. If it can not be observed by any method of science, then it has to be discarded as being unnatural and unreal. Religions on the other hand do not have this check in their method and are free to make up whatever they need to fill the demands of those who run the religions. A most dishonest process, is religion.

  103. Zia Shah

    November 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Fayyaz Shah has asked an important question, “So my question is if someone slanders my father, who is not alive, could I prosecute that person?”

    Any answers from our atheist friends, who are so hawkish about complete freedom of speech, without any stated exceptions.

  104. Eric Metze

    November 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Slander is a completely different term than insult or offend. It implies that the rumors going around have had a negative financial impact on the person, and they therefore have grounds to sue the offender for lost revenue. But saying something offensive is completely different. No one has the right to sue or prosecute anyone for simply being offended.

  105. Ghulam Sarwar

    November 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    For Mike de Fleuriot: a man of God, in India, in years 1880 to 1908 claimed communian with God. He said God was speaking to him. He invited any one to come to him to get the proof and that he will surely show them God (meaning proof of living God).
    He wrote registered letters to hundreds of well known persons of the world and invited them at his own expence to come and see God according to his conditions (of time duration only).
    Those who came to him were satisfied about his claim. But pehaps no scientist came forward.

    To predict something about the future is also not an ordinary matter. He wrote in his book, before he passed away in 1908, about the calamities in the near future in the world. He wrote that it will be very hard time for the people and “Even the Czar of Russia will be in a very bad state.”

    We know what happened to Czar and his family in 1918, after WWII. There had been many more news of the future with open challenge. All those proved true as they were told to him by God Almighty.
    That person claimed that the living God was speaking to him. Some one should have come forward to stay with him. But not many came.
    That man of God supported science. He said “Science i.e nature is the WORK of God and Quran is the WORD of God, and there cannot be any difference (disparity) between the WORD of God and the WORK of God.”

  106. A friend

    November 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    I am a disciple of Osho. My master not only ridiculed other “religions” himself, but encouraged us in the strongest terms to offend christians, muslims, buddhists, and the followers of every other pseudo-religion. My religion thus literally obliges me to ridicule all others. If muslims have a right not to be offended, then my religious freedom is destroyed.

  107. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    November 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    ‘A friend': weird …

  108. Eric Metze

    November 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    I don’t know who Osho is, but if what you said is true then he’s a hypocritical douchebag.

  109. ikhan

    November 24, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Does the right to offend involves all senses: see; hear; touch; smell; taste; etc.?

  110. Falak Rahman

    November 24, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    We are all from the same Source, Creator, Allah, God, Bhagwan, Superbeing, No-being or No-God. We are all different and yet the same. We are different races, colors, creeds, religions, belief systems or no belief. Yet we are all same as we hurt, bleed, feel the same way. We are all ONE big family on this earth. With all our differences and likenesses, we are supposed to live in harmony, love and peace. In the absence of these, there is chaos in the world, which we see now as there is lack of tolerance, patience and love for each other. Absence of love is Hate and absence of peace and harmony is chaos.My religion teaches me, Love for ALL, Hatred for NONE and also peace within oneself and around me. If God or No God wanted we would all have been the same and it would have been soooo boring. But instead, we are all different/same with a CHOICE given to each of us. The Choice is to how to refine ourselves individually and make/leave this world a better place for our future generations to come. So, let’s join hands to refine ourselves first and make our World a Heaven.

  111. A friend

    November 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    @Eric Metze: Now you’re getting the hang of it!

  112. Mike de Fleuriot

    November 24, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I do believe that logical fallacies were designed specifically for the religious to use in debates. Reading an extended comment section on almost any blog post about religion will confirm this. Circular reasoning, No True Scots, arguments from populace, authority and ignorance, not to mention strawmen and all the rest of them, they are all there.

    If you think that speech should be restricted in any way, then it is you who have the problem with what is being said. Your choices are to ignore, disprove the speech or resort to violence. Each of these has an effect, so choose wisely.

  113. Matt Leonard

    November 26, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Nobody has the right to not be offended. Such a concept is not possible since some people will take offence at anything. If mockery or criticism of your chosen prophet, god, or cult doctrines is offensive to you, too … bad. Your actions based upon your beliefs are not only offensive, they are disgustingly asinine and very detrimental to the advancement of society and mankind. Believe whatever your psychosis demands, but don’t, for one second, believe that your delusions will be allowed to dominate the world. Religions are on their way to rest in the dust of history where they belong.

  114. Rob

    November 26, 2013 at 5:38 am

    “do atheists have the right to offend Muslims?”

    Let’s flip this around a little, shall we?

    “Do muslims have the right to offend atheists?”

    If the answer to this is not the same, why not?

    What do muslims think of atheists that were formerly muslim? Are they treated with respect and not offended?


    What can offend is when you comment on my belief (without sharing it). (Is that not a sensible guideline?)

    An apostate or infidel does not share beliefs. Therefore, no statements can be made against apostates or infidels. Sensible guideline, no?

  115. A Hermit

    November 26, 2013 at 5:52 am

    There’s a big gap between saying something someone might be offended by and hate speech and we need to be careful not to leap across that gap so easily.

    An honest expression of an opinion about religion, (like the Jesus and Mo T-Shirts for example) is NOT hate speech. You might be personally offended by it, but that is not enough to justify silencing that opinion.

  116. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    November 26, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Rob: You are asking “what do Muslims think of atheists that were formerly Muslim?” – A good question. Personally I feel sorry for them. Apparently they did not have good Muslim teachers. Or did not read The Muslim Times may be? I am not ‘personally offended’ as it is his/her choice. I would also not like to offend them. I would not be happy about their choice, but that is my choice also, is it not?

  117. Acolyte of Sagan

    November 26, 2013 at 6:14 am

    The ‘offence’ in question is simply the act of Author (see jesusandmo.net) drawing a cartoon picture of Mohammed (actually a cartoon picture of a body-double so as not to offend, which suggests that the ‘offence’ is deliberately taken), which some Muslims claim is not allowed in case it leads to idolisation of the prophet rather than their version of god.
    However, the idea of showing Mo in pictoral form is a relatively new one, since Mecca is liberally decorated with pictures of Mohammed.
    Stop looking for reasons to be offended; stop inventing reasons to be offended. Islam is a religion like any other, based not on fact but on wishful thinking and ignorance of reality, and I for one will not have my freedoms restricted on the basis of any of the fairy tales.
    If that offends you, I most respectfully suggest that you grow up.

  118. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    November 26, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Sagan…: I have visited Mecca several times and I would like to confirm that I have not seen any picture of Mohammed (peace be on him). But that is another topic. I agree however that it is a waste of energy to be offended by a cartoon. Even if someone wants to ‘ridicule’ our Prophet I consider that to be between that person and God the creator of us all. I may not like it, but I will not waste my energy on it.

  119. Acolyte of Sagan

    November 26, 2013 at 6:29 am

    In my comment above, “However, the idea of showing Mo in pictoral form is a relatively new one….” should have read “However, the idea that showing Mo in pictoral form is forbidden is a relatively new one…”

    Note to self: either type, or play with your grandsons. Trying to both at once leads to confused posts.

  120. Acolyte of Sagan

    November 26, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Rafiq, I saw the images shown in a series called ‘The Life of Mohammed’ by Rageh Omah for BBC1; they formed ancient ‘story-boards’ which enabled the illiterate to follow the story of the alleged (‘alleged’ because, as an atheist I do not belive that anybody has ever received messages from gods, but am still open to good old-fashioned evidence) prophet. That the face of Mohammed was later scratched out of the paintings is neither here nor there; the fact is that they were happily depicting him as late as the 10th Century CE. One can only assume that a more puritanical branch of Islam rose to prominence and vandalised them – much like the Protestants did for Catholic items of ‘idolatory’.

  121. James

    November 26, 2013 at 6:47 am

    “No human being has the right to offend another person.”

    This comment offends me greatly. You have no right to make it.

  122. Mike

    November 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Do Muslims have the right to offend atheists? They do it every day and especially with nonsense articles like this.

    It’s a ridiculous idea. Where do Muslims get the arrogance to claim they should be able dictate speech because of their ludicrous, barbaric beliefs?

  123. Reggie Conway

    November 26, 2013 at 7:50 am

    To everyone in this thread who says no human being has a right to offend another person, I have one thing to say:

    I had sex …

    Welcome to 2013 and if you want to go through life without getting offended, go live on Mars and try to fill up the old riverbeds with your wuss tears, you worthless sacks of shit.

  124. Alberto Knox

    November 26, 2013 at 10:34 am

    I, and many others, find it offensive that in this age of technology and enlightenment some people try to use the government to force me to limit what I can say and print to better conform to ancient superstitions.

    It is extremely offensive that I be asked to treat children’s magic stories and ghosts as deserving of respect.

    I am overwhelmingly offended and embarrassed that my Western culture still allows special consideration to those lacking the wit or fortitude to accept the world as it clearly is.

  125. Rover

    November 26, 2013 at 10:44 am

    I find the notion to impose limits on the freedom of speech and expression based on the subjective whims of one group, highly and incredibly offensive. Please refrain from offending me and never say such things again.

    If you get to restrict my free speech because of your inability to deal with the fact not everyone holds your fables and myths in as high a regard as you do, I get to restrict your freedom of speech too, it should work both ways. After all why should your feelings of offense be considered more important than mine?

  126. sanford sklansky

    November 26, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    From Ed Brayton
    If offending Muslims (or anyone else) leads to social disorder, that is the fault of those who respond violently to being offended. The commenters are equally clueless.
    The answer is simple. No human being has the right to offend another person.
    Really? Because I find what you just said incredibly offensive. There are few things that offend me more than someone who blathers this kind of totalitarian bullshit. By your own reasoning, you have just committed a crime.
    One person’s freedom ends where another’s begins. Therefore offensive ‘anything’, should NOT be allowed under the guise of freedom of expression.
    In fact, it is more hate mongering than so-called freedom of expression and therefore should be made illegal and a crime for it costs many lives.
    There is no other freedom being impinged. You do not have any right to go through life with no one ever saying anything that offends you. And the only thing that costs lives are barbaric authoritarians who think they have a right to kill someone who offends them.
    Hell yes, we have the right to offend you. And you have the right to offend me, as you do every day with your authoritarian demands.

  127. Paul

    November 27, 2013 at 7:16 am

    ALL theistic religions offend me. Their groups (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, etc..) are allowed to offend me EVERY DAY by spreading the lie that there is a god, by indoctrinating children with this lie, by carrying out and causing to be carried out atrocities in the name of a non existent made-up supreme being based on fictional books written by the death-dealers and sick, power hungry slave owning human sacrificing rulers of old.
    They are nothing more than a bunch of hate-mongering death cults that want to have as many indoctrinated members as possible before their ‘loving’ god comes and kills all of humanity.
    There is no evidence for their gods and as such no reverence or respect is owed to them.
    If I decided all potatoes were part of god, then every time someone ate a chip or a french fry I would have the right to be offended???
    What a load of rubbish!
    If you are going to believe in god without a shred of evidence, then you deserve no respect.
    It is impossible to offend god since he does not exist.

  128. Paul Perry

    November 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

    But Paul, your being offended only counts if A) the feelings being offended are religious in origin and B) you are likely to become violent.

    Doesn’t that make it logical…?

  129. FO

    November 27, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I find your post extremely offensive, as it hurts principles I hold dear and sacred.

    Please take it down.

    Or do you mean, you can be offensive as long as you are offending only few people?

  130. Karsten

    November 28, 2013 at 10:23 am

    This article offend me greatly. I will therefore immediately resort to not trying to opress your opinion by restricting free speech. Then, I will start not being violent whatsoever. Whatch me throwing no stones and not burning down your house while I chant no death-threats on that non-demonstration where we will also probably not burn q’rans.

  131. anon

    November 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    Sure people have the right to offend, just as they have the right to lie. However, that doesn’t mean its OK or morally good to do so, just as dishonesty and lies are not morally good.

  132. FO

    November 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    BTW, I notice that the author cites Voltaire.

    He obviously disapproves of what atheists say (and I am very fine with it).
    But will he “defend to death” our right to say it?
    Apparently not.

    You know, everyone can defend the stuff they like.
    Will you defend the stuff that offends you?

    I will defend your right to publish stupid articles like these, to daily offend human intelligence and compassion with your ridiculous, vicious, stupid ideas.
    But with that comes my right to call your ideas for what I think they are.

    NO ONE wants to prohibit religious people from exchanging their ideas or making them public.
    But we want the right to call bullshit for what it is.

    Free speech **IS** the right to offend.

    Because WHATEVER you say, someone somewhere will be offended by it.

    Anyone with a slightest intellectual honesty would see this outright.

  133. Raven

    November 28, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    It seems pretty clear to me that free speech is one of those cases where what is moral and what is legal ultimately have to be different. Morality is complex and nuanced, while laws have to be able to serve the greater good despite human beings having varied and biased interpretations of them.

    Causing offense solely for the sake of causing offense makes you a jerk, and sometimes even immoral, but history has shown that there’s no authority that can be trusted to fairly and justly regulate speech, especially since authority is exactly the thing that most needs to be criticized from time to time. The best solution to the problems caused by free speech is more free speech, and the internet has empowered people more than ever to call out and correct injustices and lies. It’s not a perfect system, but it does seem to be the least bad so far.

  134. Non

    November 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Yes we do. Muslims don’t get to wriggle out of this, no other religion does. I think you should take a long reflection why we atheists are saying such offensive things, because you deluded fools persecute us and others like us more than anyone, take a good long look in the mirror, Muslims. We are tired of you killing us and pretending you are the ‘new jews’ (hint, you’re not) when we speak out against your religion. The world is getting so sick of this, it’s started to ban your religion. Today Angola, tomorrow, who knows?

  135. Boutros Boutros-Ghali

    November 29, 2013 at 8:25 am

    A religion that can’t handle criticism and mockery deserves MORE criticism and mockery.

    Blasphemy laws are not written to “protect gawd”, they’re written by sociopathic thugs who want to legalize violence, who want the government to commit terrorism on their behalf to silence valid criticism and factual disagreement.

    If “gawd” created the universe and is all-powerful, then it can deal with me itself. It doesn’t need petty, pathetic and fascistic mass murderers acting on its behalf. The fact that “gawd” does nothing to me proves one of two things:

    (a) “gawd” doesn’t exist, so there’s no need for a “blasphemy law”, or

    (b) “gawd” doesn’t give a crap about what I say, so the rabidly religious don’t need to act out either. Again, no need for a “blasphemy law”.

    The only respect religion deserves is the right to have it, and nobody is trying to stop you. I am free to mock anyone who still likes Ian Watkins of Lostprophets without fear of violence, and I am free to mock your religion’s prophet without fear of violence. That is an apt analogy in more ways than one.

    Most important of all, you have to prove that your fictitious sky-pixies exist before you can claim that anyone has “offended your religion” or that any “blasphemy” has occurred. There’s more reason to believe in Harry Potter or the Iliad and Odyssey then your fiction.

  136. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    November 29, 2013 at 8:31 am

    This does not sound like the retired UN Boutros-Boutros Ghali ??? or is it???

  137. Matt Davis

    December 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    In this official European document, it clearly states that the right to have a religion does not give you the right to have a religion that is free from ridicule or criticism. Therefore, yes, anyone can criticise any religion they feel like.


    Quote: iv. Recall that the most effective way to combat a perceived offense from the exercise
    of freedom of expression is the use of freedom of expression itself. Freedom of
    expression applies online as well as offline18. New forms of media as well as
    information and communications technology provide those who feel offended by
    criticism or rejection of their religion or belief with the tools to instantly exercise
    their right of reply.
    o In any case, the EU will recall, when appropriate, that the right to freedom of religion or
    belief, as enshrined in relevant international standards, does not include the right to have
    a religion or a belief that is free from criticism or ridicule19

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