AMSTERDAM CENTRAL TRAIN STATION – While we in the West celebrate freedom of expression – and rightly so – we should not be surprised when those who go out of their way to insult whole communities are targeted for retribution.
Of all the societies in human history it is hard to argue that what we have built in some corners of our planet as of the early 21st century is the best so far. I am referring to the Western model which embodies, among other things, liberal democracies in which populations choose whom to lead them, freedom of speech and association, and a separation of church and state.
Not that these polities are perfect – far from it. Still, in comparison with what we see elsewhere – dictatorships, terrorist-run ‘Caliphates‘, etc. – it is pretty good. Whether these represent the pinnacle of what is possible I will leave to others more qualified to discuss.
One of our ‘ideals’, i.e. freedom of speech, is seen by many as next to sacrosanct. What this means is that anyone is entitled to say just about anything – short of what some call ‘hate speech‘ although that word does not enjoy a universally agreed upon definition.
So what do we do when others react violently when exposed to this freedom?
On this day in 2018
A knifeman injured two civilians at the central train station in Amsterdam before he was shot and wounded by Dutch police. The 19-year old assailant, an Afghan immigrant, later told a court that ‘the Prophet Mohammad, the Koran, the Islam and Allah have often been insulted’. He also referred to controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, well known to hold anti-Islamic views.
Now I am no fan of Wilders: he is a provacateur and a nasty man. Still, that does not justify under any circumstances what this Afghan did. Our freedoms come at a cost: fortunately that cost this time was not fatal.
Read More Today in Terrorism
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