By Khalid Al-Sulaiman
I do not know if the Makkah court’s verdict of 50 lashes for the woman who made a false accusation against her friend in an insulting text message is the first of its kind. But I know that those who make false accusations or send threatening text messages will now think twice before doing it again.
This also applies to e-mails and tweets on social media that are full of insults, as there are people who believe insulting others is part of one’s freedom of expression.
The matter becomes more serious when such messages target a popular public figure, because it seems to be generally believed that those who are in the spotlight do not have any right to privacy or dignity.
The line between criticism and insult is quite clear and there is no confusion between them unless a person cannot differentiate between the two meanings.
Legally pursuing people who insult others does not infringe on one’s freedom of expression, nor does it impede upon the right to criticize. On the contrary, such laws will protect the principle of criticism from being pulled into the quagmire of personal attacks.
It is high time we promoted the culture of respect and the protection of people’s dignity while engaging in a dialogue or expressing an opinion. It is no longer acceptable that some of us can get away with insulting others in the name of freedom of expression.