For many individuals, America is still considered to be the “Land of the Free.” People exercise their freedom of speech and religion regularly that hardly anything appears to be taboo in this modern day. With this freedom, however, harmful consequences may follow.
In the past decade, there has been an influx of negative opinions regarding the Muslim religion following the attacks on Sept. 11. According to The New York Times, the most controversial opinion was demonstrated in a plan to burn the Quran, devised by a Florida pastor named Terry Jones.
The burning of the Quran, along with other hateful acts toward Islam, is not a symbolic freedom of speech. Derogatory comments and offenses toward the Muslim religion should not be regarded as an individual’s right to speak their mind openly because harmful consequences may ensue.
Jones single-handedly generated an international outcry against the burning of the Islamic holy book. Despite preventative measures taken by top American officials, Jones went ahead and burned the Quran during a mock trial that took place at his church in March 2011.
Following the Quran burning, protests emerged throughout Afghanistan. According to an April 2011 report from The New York Times, the protests resulted in the killing of more than 24 people. This is what many officials and citizens feared would occur if Jones proceeded with the burning.
Disrespecting a religion’s sacred text or attempting to prevent the construction of a place of worship, including a mosque, is a symbol of ignorance and shows a lack of empathy toward other nations and their beliefs.
While free speech continues to be a hot topic, Americans should reach a consensus that burning a Quran in order to symbolize their disagreement with the Islamic religion is ethically wrong. It may be easy to negatively speak openly about other religions; however, is America prepared to deal with the consequences that come with offending a religious group?
Aside from emotionally hurting people with images of a burning Quran, these acts may prompt violent behavior in America and other nations. People need to keep in mind: exercising free speech also comes with responsibilities.
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