A major assault on Free Speech is coming!

Harris Sultan

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Not sure whether Voltaire actually said it or not but I totally stand by it.

I started the petition asking Senator Fraser Anning to resign in wake of his bigoted views towards Muslims. Over a million people signed and it became the biggest petition in Australia's history. I stand by it! This is not an attack on his free speech as free speech doesn't absolve you from consequences. These consequences could be public condemnation, disapproval ratings etc. but Fraser Anning had every right to say what he said but also face the consequences which I am sure he is facing now. I have faith that sanity will prevail and he will not be re-elected as a senator once elections are called next month.

Now, this petition is being hijacked by some people. The Islamic Council of Victoria has started a petition demanding a "Code of Conduct" to ban "hate speech" in the parliament and by parliamentarians even out in the public. This is a slippery slope as anything that is critical of anything, can be labelled as "hate speech". To my knowledge, this petition is being supported by some leftist parties. I won't name them yet but I will when pushed. People and above all, politicians should be able to talk about whatever they see fit. If they ever cross the line, we as people can stand up and dismiss their narrative as we did in Senator Fraser Anning's case. But what we cannot do is turn our parliaments into totalitarian institutes where critique can be shut down by labelling it as hate speech.

If I was a politician and said: "The Quran contains violent verses which should be excluded from the copy of the Quran as it gives rise to violence". This statement which is a perfectly genuine statement and a legitimate concern can be called a hate speech towards Muslims. My career as a politician could be over. You might be thinking I'm stretching it but I am not. Pauline Hanson was misquoted in this petition as saying "Muslims are a virus to be vaccinated". She actually said "Islam is a disease and we need to vaccinate ourselves", although a bad choice of words and a bad analogy but it is not really hate speech as it is not targeting people. It is targeting an ideology. If I said "Nazism is a disease and we need to vaccinate ourselves" would that be hateful towards Nazism or some skinheads? If we followed this code of conduct, some skinheads and right-wing extremists can also cry "hate speech towards us". This is why there doesn't need to be any code of conduct that limits free speech. Let people say hateful things as there will always be people who will oppose them.

Islamic Council of Victoria should be the last people we should be listening to when it comes to NOT spreading "hate speech". They are quick to condemn hateful comments by the non-Muslims but go awfully quiet when someone else is targeted. In my public debate with Uthman Badar, a spokesperson for Hizb-ut-Tahrir which was covered by various news agencies and online blogs, he openly said Islamic law demands apostates like me to be killed. There was absolutely no response or condemnation from any of the Islamic groups. Why? Because Islamic law does stipulate that and all these apologists and propagators of Islam are sympathetic towards it. At least I am consistent with my views, I say even Uthman Badar has a right to free speech and he should be allowed to make statements towards us apostates as long as he doesn't incite anyone to carry on this act. He was rightfully condemned by a lot of Australians who read that story on Dailymail and online blogs.

I DO NOT support this petition started by the Islamic Council of Victoria that is being supported by some politicians. Free speech is in direct threat if this petition gets strength or turned into a legislation.

P.S I end this with this point from the petitioner, notice how he didn't include "sexual orientation" because Islam, in essence, is homophobic.

"This means any statements that are not consistent with the values of social inclusion, tolerance, and respect for all persons, regardless of colour, gender, national or ethnic origin, culture and religious belief."