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Amir Butler
executive director of the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee

Key amongst the challenges faced by Muslim communities in the West are: the need to develop and adapt Islamic law to the demands of life as a minority in a pluralist society; the reconciliation of devotion to the pan-Islamic community (the ummah) with the demands and expectations of citizenship in the modern nation-state; and to develop a more nuanced understanding and acceptance of freedom of speech as it relates to religious discussion in modern democracies. Ultimately, these are all questions about how Muslim communities can better integrate with the broader society and can only be addressed by Islamic scholars and intellectuals.

One of the more serious issues that we must address as a society is the gradual reduction in our freedom of speech. A war is currently being waged on our freedom of expression on two fronts: by governments anxious to limit free speech in the name of fighting extremism; and by religious communities who are increasingly demanding that the state extend the same protections to religious ideas as currently extend to matters of race. Society must renew its faith in freedom of speech as one of the most important tools we have in both protecting our societies from extremist ideas, oppressive or transgressive government, and allowing the peaceful coexistence of different and often competing ideologies and belief-systems. As citizens, we should demand that our governments justify every proposed limitation of free expression - whether in the name of defending us against terrorism or in the name of defending religious communities from being offended.

See Amir Butler‘s website



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