For the past week, one of the big issues of the nation was the ‘Everybody Draw a Muhammad‘ account on Facebook. Most of the foul-cryers were, of course, Muslim, who think that the page is an insult to their prophet. I was, however, dismayed to see that a lot of non-muslims joined the cause.
The problem is not the account itself. Althought I have to say that I agree with the content of the account, the basic problem here is democracy and free speech. Are we ready for democracy? Are we ready to let others have their say, when we have ours? Or do we want to hear only of our own opinions and truths while denying that same right to others?
As I pointed out to Minister of Information and Communication Tiffatul Sembiring, there are some sites that expressed the exact polar opposite (see this blog for example) opinion and yet, it is allowed to exist. Why did he rush to ask for the Facebook account to be removed?
We as Indonesians dream of a democracy. However, a democracy applies to all, not just one religion or race or creed. As Denis Diderot once said, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This is the essence of a democracy. I do not agree with that blog – that is a fact I freely admit. However, I will defend to the death the author’s right to say it. It is his opinion, based on his judgements and his personal sentiments. Because he is an Indonesian citizen such as myself, he has the right to express it.
Has our society always been so thin-skinned? Why is it that the majority monotheists feel that they have the right to say something about other faiths, while other faiths have no right to say anything about them? No, the real question is, why do we, as a society, tolerate such intolerance?
Are you sure you want a democracy? Or should we have a theocracy instead? Are we that eager to become a tyranny?
“You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken – unspeakable! – fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse – a little tiny mouse! -of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.”
Those who would deny us free speech are, in essence, dictators and tyrants. Ruling only by fear and force, forgoing any similies of democracy. This is where we are heading. The thinner our skin, the easier it is for them to take over. Let me ask you this: Is this the kind of nation you want your children to grow up in?
A final quote before I end this:
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”