From Angela Merkel to Justin Trudeau: What the world leaders say about ‘freedom of speech’ and Islamophobia

"We will always defend freedom of expression, but freedom of expression is not without boundaries."- Justin Trudeau

Last month, The French President, Emmanuel Macron, hurt sentiments of Muslims worldwide after he vowed to fight “Islamist separatism” and supported the right to advertise religious caricatures. The dispute has led to protests, boycotts, and rebukes.

Islamic countries, including Pakistan, Turkey, and many others, have condemned Macron’s defense of the cartoons and called for a boycott of French products.

Following this, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, defended free speech but continued that it was “not without limits” and should not “indiscriminately and needlessly hurt” specific communities.

Trudeau said, “We will always defend freedom of expression, but freedom of expression is not without boundaries. We owe it to ourselves to honor others and to seek not to unnecessarily hurt feelings of those with whom we are sharing community and a planet.”

“In a diversified and civil society like ours, we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the consequences of our words and actions on others, especially these communities and groups who still experience discrimination,” he said.

In an emotional speech, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, during a budget debate in 2019, said, “We have freedom of speech in our country. For all those who claim they can no longer express their opinion, I say this to them: If you express a clear idea, you must live with the fact that you will be contradicted.

She added, “Expressing an opinion does not come at zero cost. However, freedom of expression has its boundaries. Those limits start when hate and resentment are spread. They begin when the integrity of other people has been compromised. We must reject extreme speech. Otherwise, our society will no longer be the liberated society that it was.”

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