Here’s an excellent piece from Lebanon’s Daily Star, commenting on how no one, no matter his religion, has a right to expect he will never be offended. As reader ‘rather dashing’ points out in a comment below, and the writer of this piece agrees, the proper reply to offensive speech is more speech, not stifling it. Even more, violence is never the right response.
The writer of this piece, Shahed Amanullah, offers a suggestion with which I fully concur: If you find yourself being easily offended, grow a thicker skin.
Muslims or not, no one has an absolute right to be offended
Back in 1989, when the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” sparked a new phenomenon of protests from Muslims – particularly by those in the West – I was a student body senator at the University of California at Berkeley, where the Free Speech Movement was born in the 1960s. Two bookstores were firebombed – apparently in retaliation for the book, though without any claims of responsibility.
Along with several other Muslim students, I appeared on local television to denounce the bombings and state our belief that while Muslims could understandably be offended, no one had the right to impose censorship or intimidate others with threats to their safety or property.
That situation put us in the unique position of being targets of abuse by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, who either painted us as whitewashing a desire to impose our beliefs on others (this from the public in general) or apologizing for a legitimate Muslim rage, regardless of whether it had crossed the line into violence (this from fellow Muslims). It was a paradox that has repeated itself many times in the 20 years since, most recently with the Danish cartoons and the violent reactions that some Muslims around the world had to them.