Time to Act in Afghanistan
Afghani writer was jailed for being critical of Islam. In a serious blow to the future of liberal democracy,
Freedom of speech is vital to the debate of ideas for a functioning democracy. Freedom of religion is equally important. It is not a superfluous notion of a by-gone era. It goes to the core of an individual’s being. If the individual is to be respected, his most precious thoughts, beliefs, and values must be freely chosen, his character has to be cultivate through exercising his liberty and living his beliefs, and finally he has to be able to proudly express his being without fear of retribution. These may be religious; or they may be one’s philosophy, way of looking at the world, or innermost core values.
One doesn’t have to be religious – and I am not – to understand that the issue is the sanctity of individual life and sovereignty of each individual in his being. The concept of rights is an absolute that says “my person is off limits; I am a human being.” There can be no greater concern than advocating freedoms of religion and speech. Without these freedoms, democracy is little more than a murdering mob trampling others in their path. Without these freedoms, the spirit of democracy turns into the nightmare of totalitarianism.
Nation-building cannot come at the cost of the individual. It's the lesson of the 20th century.