Goodness, can you believe another month has already gone by? With so many news bits coming out of all corners of Africa it’s never a dull moment in The African Business Journal newsroom. Having said that, we’re quite proud of the issue this month and you’ll notice some new sections we hope to expand on in the following issues, namely some cultural bits like wine reviews, insights on the film industry, recommended reading and even some of your tweets!
I wanted to take the opportunity to address a topical issue, however, something that has been directly affecting Northern Africa and the Middle East (and has now spread across to the rest of the world in some shape or form). But it raises what I consider to be an integral question: should there be a level of social responsibility that goes along with being a member of the global community?
For quick reference, I’m talking about that notorious YouTube film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad that came out a couple of weeks ago, Innocence of Muslims, which has caused a violent uprising around the world and has resulted in deaths.
At the time of writing this article, a French satirical weekly decided it would be a good idea to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, setting off a new wave of outrage throughout the Islamic world while the situation is already so tumultuous. Quite frankly, it should be seen as an irresponsible act of provocation and cheap attempt to raise exposure to a national magazine, veiled in the name of “freedom of expression.”
Yes, I have had the liberty of being born in a country where freedom of speech is often taken for granted because it’s ingrained in us from a young age. The United States sees freedom of speech as a constitutional right for all of its citizens and will defend that no matter how offensive, inaccurate or downright moronic this personal expression is (after all, it’s subjective, right?).
But my question, my friends, is should there not be a level of social responsibility that goes along with being a member of the global community? We no longer live in an age where a local magazine and its opinions remain safely harboured within a town’s own walls. The Internet has made the world a lot smaller and proliferates information at a viral rate. Arguably, members of the media in a ‘civilised Western world’ are fully aware of this. So while being aware, and knowing the state of the world, and knowing that a similar situation in 2005 – when a Danish newspaper posted 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad – resulted in 100 reported deaths around the world, to go ahead and do what this French weekly did is not intelligent, constructive, freedom of speech. This is insanity.
Albert Einstein said it best when he defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Is this not what is happening again, today?
There is much more on this topic that could ever fit onto one page, so I’ll say adieu and encourage you to share your thoughts and conversations on Twitter (@AfricanBJournal) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember, knowledge shared is knowledge gained.
I hope you enjoy this issue,