Erdoğan’s analysis that “[f]reedom of thought and belief ends where the freedom of thought and belief of others start” is, to say the least, bizarre and logically impossible. Although in the physical realm persons can delineate their own private spheres such that, according to the well-known colloquialism, the freedom to punch another person’s nose ends where that nose begins, various ideas concerning religion or anything else fundamentally contradict one another. Attempts to identify correct beliefs from false ones, therefore, require comparing, contrasting, and criticism in a free market of ideas.
Any attempt to implement Erdoğan’s standard will inevitably result in decisions concerning where peoples’ various beliefs begin and end, with corresponding restrictions for other people with opposing beliefs. Indeed, as a report on blasphemy laws by the organization Human Rights First shows, blasphemy laws throughout majority-Muslim countries often suppress religious beliefs such as those of Christianity deemed heretical by Islam. There is, moreover, a question of equal enforcement of the laws. While Muslims around the world such as Erdoğan are outraged by Innocence of Muslims, the burning of the American flag and the ripping apart of a Bible by a Muslim cleric during the September 11, 2012 storming of the American Cairo, Egypt, embassy do not seem to have raised much concern among Muslims or others around the world. The end result of Erdoğan’s efforts will thus not be an equal protection of all against offense, but the subordination of some to others.
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