Tamer Fouad: Religious Slogans Between Freedom of Expression and Social Responsibility
|Monday, October 31,2011 11:02|
|By T. FOUAD, MD|
As I write this article, news has surfaced that the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, will not use the Brotherhood’s famous motto “Islam is the Solution” in their political campaigns. Last week, the High Elections Commission issued a ban against the use of religious chants, symbols or slogans in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Instead the FJP will campaign using its own slogan “We bring good for Egypt.” As a staunch liberal who personally favors separating religion from politics, I wholeheartedly commend the party’s decision. For years, many Egyptians have opposed the Brotherhood’s slogan, arguing it breeds sectarianism, monopolizes Islam, and violates the Constitution.
Prior to this decision, the Brotherhood had vehemently upheld its right to use the religious slogan, arguing that it was compatible with the Egyptian Constitution. However, one of the better arguments in support of the use of religious slogans came from a fellow blogger named Hatem Rushdy, whose argument was based not on religious convictions, or legal constraints, but surprisingly, from a liberal standpoint. Please find Mr. Rushdy’s blog in the reference section below.
Admittedly, I reacted with initial skepticism, which gradually gave way to mild irritation…
Rushdy was right of course. Legality disputes aside, and in a purely theoretical context, FJP’s right to campaign using religious slogans would fall under freedom of expression. If Liberals would practice what they preach they would not support the censorship of any person or party from the right to express itself simply on the grounds that they find it offensive or disagreeable.