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Title: Freedom of speech as a universal value : a comparative approach from international human rights law, the First Amendment, and Islamic law
Author: Al-Jamal, Sultan
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 2007
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Abstract:
The issue of universalism in the human right of freedom of speech is one of several that continue to be debated among Muslims and Westerners. As evidence of incompatibility of Islamic law with the international law of freedom of speech, Westerners, on the basis of Muslims' reactions towards the Satanic Verses and Danish cartoons, point to the blasphemy law in Islam (Sab Allah wa Sab al-Rasul). Four other controversial areas are often raised as an indication of differences between these two laws, namely, speech threatening nation security (Fitnah), defamatory speech (Qadhf and Iftira), obscenity (al-Fihsh), and hate speech. This study examines the important question of whether or not the Islamic law of freedom of speech is compatible with the international law of freedom of speech. The study argues that the Islamic law of freedom of speech is not contrary to the international law of freedom of speech, represented in two of the most significant legal sources of the right to freedom of speech, namely, Article 19 of the ICCPR and Article 10 of the ECHR, both based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which this study presumes to be the standard of the human right of freedom of speech. Rather, the study goes further and concludes that Islamic law, as embedded in the Quran and Sunnah, urges the international concept of freedom of speech and calls for it. This compatibility between Islamic law, on the one hand, and international law, on the other, is not restricted to the level of the concept of freedom of speech. Rather, even the interpretation and application of freedom of speech in the light of Islamic law are, to a considerable degree, consistent with the interpretation and application of the international law of freedom of speech by the Human Rights Committee and European Court. Although there are some differences in interpretation and implementation of moral limitations on freedom of speech between Islamic Law and the international law of freedom of speech, this does not create a general state of dissonance between them. The study argues that such differences are even more pronounced among liberal democracies. In order to demonstrate the differences among liberal democracies in this regard, American law of freedom of speech (the First Amendment) is analysed in depth. The discussion of these free speech laws reveals that although there is universality of freedom of speech among liberal democracies (which refers to the universal quality or global acceptance of the idea of freedom of speech), universalism in the right to free speech (referring to a universally applicable interpretation of freedom of speech) has not been achieved.
Supervisor: Burchill, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.445315  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law
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