Media Release: Threats against mosque is not free speech

3 March 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Free Speech Coalition condemns the recent threat against the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch and calls for a deeper understanding of free speech in the light of these events.

“This disgusting and cowardly threat on the Al Noor mosque is deplorable,” says Jordan Williams, a spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition.

“Threats of violence are not free speech, they do not communicate a message, and they are not supported by free speech principles.”

“We are already seeing calls in support of removing anonymity from internet users as a reaction to this repugnant act. While some may welcome a limit to their rights in the heat of the moment, we must remember that any restrictions on our freedoms have farther stretching implications than we think. Recall that threats of violence are already illegal.”

“An end to anonymity on the internet can threaten the safety of many activists fighting tyranny abroad. Many have family and friends in dangerous places. Anonymity protects not just the speaker’s safety but those of their loved ones.”

“Critics calling for tighter restrictions on speech should note that the threat made against Al Noor mosque is already illegal under New Zealand law. The correct response should be to punish the individual responsible for making these disgusting remarks, not to abolish our rights to free speech.”

“The best antidote to hatred is speaking up and calling it out. Providing a platform to do that is of fundamental importance of free speech.”

END