Is Islam A Threat to Freedom of Expression
February 2, 2014


Date & Time: Sunday, 16 February 2014, 10AM-1PM
Venue: Conference Room, Global Movement of Moderates Foundation, Level 15 Menara Manulife, Damansara Heights, KL

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
[Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 ]

Freedom of expression has always been a bone of contention between the Islamic world and the West. It has been argued that we have reached this stage of our history by ending the control of the Catholic Church on what could and could not be said or written in public. So-called heretics were killed at the stake to help secure freedom of religion, thought, and expression. Therefore these freedoms are deemed sacrosanct.

However it is generally perceived that the exercise of freedom of expression by a segment of the secular establishment, mainly among members of the literary and intellectual elite in the West, in relation to Islam, constitutes a major obstacle in the search for common grounds between the Islamic world and the West. Due to historical factors, the church seems to have assented to the continuous secular attacks on Christianity.

Some examples in this regard are Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Martins Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. To this segment of Western secular cultural thinkers, nothing is sacred. The video, The Innocence of Muslims and the publication of a series of cartoons satirizing Prophet Muhammad by the Danish newspaper, Jyllad Posten, marked a new height in the secular assault on the taboos of Islam since the publication of Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses in 1988.

The various reactions this event engendered from across the Muslim world and the controversy that ensued, point to a new dimension on the strained relations between Islam and the West, shaped by interactions between forces of religion, globalization, and liberalism. This forum will try to dissect the intricacies of such matters with regard to freedom of expression.


1000-1010: Opening speech by the chairperson, Dr Fuad Nurhadi
1010-1020: Welcoming speech by Dato Saifudddin Abdullah, CEO, GMMF
1020-1030: Speech by moderator, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa
1030-1100: Speech by Dr Azmi Sharom
1100-1130: Speech by Mustafa Akyol
1130-1230: Q&A
1230-1300: Lunch

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