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Daily Maverick Morality Religion

Don’t even burn the silly books

As submitted to The Daily Maverick

If Zehir Omar is reporting court proceedings accurately, then I and the other participants in a secular conference we attended this past Saturday should be arrested. We didn’t burn anything, but we certainly said and discussed things that would be guaranteed to cause offense to a significant number of Christians, Muslims and followers of other faiths.

Omar is an attorney who represents Scholars of the Truth, a Gauteng-based Muslim organisation. On Saturday, he successfully sought an interdict against the planned burning of a Bible by Mohammed Vawda. Vawda claims that his plans were motivated by his anger towards the similar intention of Terry Jones to burn a copy of the Quran on September 11.

According to Omar, the court “accepted [his] submission that freedom of expression is limited if the exercise of one’s freedom of expression will evoke offence in members of our community”. It’s worth noticing that this is quite a curious argument for Omar to have made, seeing as it is rather self-incriminating. He is, after all, the same person who demonstrated little interest in tolerance last year when he argued against the appointment of Justice Kathy Satchwell as a Constitutional Court. “God-fearing people”, he said, would find her lesbianism unacceptable.