By Amir Mohammad Esmaeili

Terrorism by West and Israel considered ‘self-defense’, says Canadian lawyer

September 22, 2020 - 11:25

TEHRAN - Edward C. Corrigan, a Canadian analyst, and lawyer, says the acts of terrorism committed by the West and its ally Israel are justified as “self-defense”.  “Terrorism conducted by the West, and our ally Israel, is not considered terrorism but “self-defense,” Corrigan tells the Tehran Times.

The lawyer also criticizes the West for practicing double standards with regard to freedom of speech, saying, “Attacks against Islam are protected under free speech yet criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians is often considered anti-Semitic hate speech.”

The following is the full text of Corrigan interview:

Q: The French magazine Charlie Hebdo republished offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the eve of the trial of suspects in a deadly attack on the paper’s office five years ago. What is your view?

A: This is a complicated issue. Free Speech versus Incitement of Hate towards an identifiable group. I am a strong supporter of free speech and especially political speech. I also support critical academic inquires. But even free speech has its limits. For example, you cannot call out the wood fire in a crowded theatre where there is no fire. Many people would be killed and injured in the ensuing chaos.

In my view it largely depends on the motives of the offending party. If the intent is to demean and promote hatred of an identifiable group then it is hate speech and should be prohibited and those responsible punished by law. However, violence against the perpetrators cannot be justified under any circumstances. There are other ways including legal proceedings that can be taken and including boycotts and public censorship.   

Q: Could the republishing of offensive cartoons be considered as freedom of expression?

A: Again it depends on the intent behind the offensive material. If the intent is political then it may be protected under “free speech.” If there is a valid academic reason it should be protected. However, if the intent is to defame and promote hatred of an identifiable group and has no valid political or academic purpose then it crosses the line and becomes hate speech. It should be prosecuted under the laws against hate speech and laws against promoting discrimination. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons, in my opinion, serves no valid political purpose and cross the boundary to be considered hate speech against Muslims.

Q: How do you assess double standards of the West in the face of freedom of expression?

A: There is a clear double standard in the West in how its handles the question of free speech. Attacks against Islam are protected under free speech yet criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians is often considered anti-Semitic hate speech.

For example in France, there is a case where the lower court found that a number of pro-Palestinian activists were not guilty of inciting people to discriminate against products from the Israeli Occupied West Bank. However, this decision was overturned by a French Appeals Court that found that the pro-Palestinian activists were guilty of inciting discrimination against Israel. This past June, however, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that French judges were wrong to take penal action against members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, who staged demonstrations against Israeli-made products, stating the protests did not amount to incitement to discrimination.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR Court said the French judges should have taken into account the fact that "the applicants had not been convicted of making racist or anti-Semitic remarks or of inciting hatred or violence."
The European Court further noted in its ruling that political speech is by nature controversial, but remains a legitimate public interest, "provided that it did not cross the line and turn into a call for violence, hatred or intolerance." The Court also ordered that France pay damages and the legal fees of the defendants. 

Marco Perolini of Amnesty France said in a statement, this “…landmark decision sets a significant precedent that should stop the misuse of anti-discrimination laws to target activists campaigning against human rights violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians." 

In a related matter five UN experts sent a letter slamming Germany's pro-Israel law targeting the BDS movement and that such activity was political and not discriminatory against Jews. Again here is an example of a double standard where BDS activity in support of the Palestinians is attacked as a form of anti-Semitism and not as a legitimate political activity and not protected as “political free speech.”

Q: Why is Islamophobia increasing in Western countries? 

A: There is an increase in Islamophobia in Western countries. Pro-Palestinian activists are attacked as anti-Semites or for creating an environment that promotes anti-Semitism. There are a number of pro-Israelis organizations that scour the World for activities that present Muslims in a bad light. Unfortunately, there are some examples of Muslim bad behavior. Israel helps fund these organizations and publicize examples of Muslim bad behavior. This activity helps promote Islamophobia. Fortunately, Muslims are getting much better at protecting their rights. However, a double standard does exist as we see with the Charlie Hebdo cartoons example.

There are also Christian Zionists who support Israel as part of fulfilling the end of times prophecy which result in Armageddon and the destruction of the World. They believe that “Born Again Christians” will ascend into Heaven and those who are not “Born Again Christians” will be thrown into Hell. This belief includes Jews who do not convert to Christianity and as a result, many Jews consider Christian Fundamentalists that believe this theory as anti-Semitic and a threat to Jews everywhere.  Right-Wing Zionists in Israel ignore this aspect of Christian Zionist thinking and cultivate political support from this group because it is anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian, and even anti-Arab. Christians who are not “Born Again” also according to their beliefs will also be sent to hell. In my opinion, this is a very dangerous religious ideology.

Q: Analysts argue that mainstream Western media outlets present the facts surrounding terrorism and its causes in a disproportionate way whilst ignoring the vast majority of Muslims who are trying to teach people about the truth of their religion. What do you think?

A: There is a grossly disproportionate representation of terrorism and its victims. Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians are blamed for most acts of terrorism. Terrorism conducted by the West, and our ally Israel, is not considered terrorism but “self-defense.” In terms of people killed far more Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians are killed than Westerners or Israelis. The ratio is probably 100 times more Muslims and Arabs killed than Westerners. Many of the Westerners or Israelis killed are soldiers illegally occupying Arab land and stealing their resources. Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims are not allowed the right to resist foreign invaders which are a protected right under International law.

The United States, according to the Western media, has the right under the so-called “War on Terrorism” to invade countries, bomb them, and murder civilians with utter abandon. The United States has recently imposed sanctions against members of the International Criminal Court for daring to investigate possible war crimes committed by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Israel bombing defenseless Palestinians in Gaza, or its many attacks against Syria and Lebanon are also excused as acts of self-defense or somehow justified.     

Q: In your view, what are appropriate responses to this offensive act?

A: Violence is not an answer. A vigorous educational campaign must be undertaken. The Muslim community has many friends and allies who oppose discrimination and racism in all its forms. This included opposition to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and discrimination against Christians and all other religions. A strong defense must be mounted in the courts and human rights tribunals. 

Muslims must continue their humanitarian work in the communities they live to show that Muslims are “peace-loving” and that Islam respects all of the Prophets of the Old Testament and the New Testament and reveres them as part of Islam. Jews, Christians, and Muslims worship the same God and share many of the same beliefs. Many people in the West do not know this information as they have been bombarded by anti-Islamic propaganda and misrepresentations. This bias has to change and a lot of work needs to be done.

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