How should the European government act to protect their minorities against what is seen as an offensive speech?
Should offensive speech be banned?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the main definition of offending is:” to hurt or wound the feelings, to be displeasing or disagreeable, to excite a feeling of personal upset, resentment, annoyance, or disgust in someone”. The offense speech creates and leads to the growth of these negative feelings in a minority group as much as between individuals, it hurts the feelings of each member of the minority group. Also, offensive speech violates article 10(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, this article advocate free speech but it asks for specific censorship and laws to achieve public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, these problems are usually born with offensive speeches. while the strong power that could reduce the impact of offensive speech and its problems is the government.
European Governments for example, have to protect minorities from any type of offensive speech, governments should examine these minorities, their definition of offensive speech, and why these minorities rate this speech as an offensive speech. For instance, the text defined what is dangerous speech according to Muslim perspectives:” dangerous speech is not the exhortation to Jihad but what is seen as criticism or rejection to Islamic orthodoxy” (p. 107). This is how the Muslim minority defined dangerous speech. The European governments have to admit that the Muslim minority is a real existence piece in the European community, they are like the smallest piece in the puzzle. As a result, European governments have to take into consideration Muslim’s feelings and trends to describe themselves as subjective to offensive speech, then these governments will use their legal power in creating laws and censorship procedures to reduce the harmful impacts of these speeches on the Muslim minority.
Moreover, governments could protect the minority by increasing the awareness of all European citizens of how majority and minority groups could enjoy equal similar rights. Erich Kolig in chapter 4 said:” Thus someone’s rights can become the baseline from which the human rights of someone else can be violated”(p.101). according to his view, there is a line between your rights and other people’s rights, so the advocates of offensive speech should be aware of the baseline between their rights of free speech and minority rights of not being offended.
Offensive speech should be banned under tow circumstances. First, if it creates violence on the personal and public spheres, for example, if there is an offensive speech includes incitements against a person of a minority group, this incitements will not just hurt him it will hurt the whole minority, it could put the minority members under mental and physical violence, this violence is not justified under international law so these offensive speeches should be banned to stop the violence. Secondly, offensive speech should be banned, if it will reduce the universal trends, which tries to strengthen tolerance all around the world. For instance, if there is an offensive speech that tries to end the roots of multiculturalism and acceptance, this offensive speech will increase the intolerance, radical, and extremism negative thoughts between human, as a result it should be banned.
- Kolig, Erich, ed. Freedom of Speech and Islam. Ashgate: Uurlington, 2014.
- Council of Europe, European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as amended by Protocols Nos. 11 and 14, 4 November 1950, ETS 5, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3b04.html [accessed 25 April 2019]
- ” Europe’s Growing Muslim Population”. Pew Research Center. November 29, 2017. https://www.pewforum.org/2017/11/29/europes-growing-muslim-population/
- “France: Thousands demonstrate against Islamophobia”. Deutsche Welle. https://www.dw.com/en/france-thousands-demonstrate-against-islamophobia/a-51194917