Saleh Miri

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

Saleh Miri is an ar­chi­tect who came to Oman in the early 1980s. You can con­tact him at [email protected]­me­

Free­dom: What a nice and beau­ti­ful idea. It means, ‘the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants’.

In 539 BC, the armies of Cyrus the Great, the first king of an­cient Per­sia, con­quered the city of Baby­lon. But it was his next ac­tions that marked a ma­jor ad­vance for Man. He freed the slaves, de­clared that all peo­ple had the right to choose their own re­li­gion, and es­tab­lished racial equal­ity. These and other de­crees were recorded on a baked-clay cylin­der in the Akka­dian lan­guage with cu­nei­form script.

Known today as the Cyrus Cylin­der, this an­cient record has now been recog­nised as the world’s first char­ter of hu­man rights.

Three thou­sand years later, peo­ple fought in many coun­tries, lost lives, were im­pris­oned, be­fore we re­ob­tained that right, which in most coun­tries is part of the con­sti­tu­tion. Many coun­tries how­ever still do not al­low free­dom of speech.

Let us look at what we do with this right. One looks at France, where this right is al­lowed for its cit­i­zens, and see the chaos it has pro­duced with strikes every­where. Other coun­tries are vot­ing to ex­press their de­sire to leave the Euro­pean Union, such as the Brexit ini­tia­tive and we wit­ness the demon­stra­tions which come as a re­sult of this de­ci­sion.

Where free­dom is al­lowed, the nec­es­sary or­der should also be re­spected. In Rus­sia, or China, the right for free­dom has other mean­ings than in Ger­many or Italy. But where is the coun­try where this right is cor­rectly im­ple­mented? In the States there are two par­ties, and you can­not think out­side these par­ties. If you do not be­long to any of these par­ties, you stand no chance of progress in your life. In­dia, was till re­cently a coun­try where such rights were rel­a­tively re­spected, but with the new laws put in place for nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion wit­nesses the same chaos.

Le­banon, be­cause of its pop­u­la­tion some 50 years ago, had to have a Chris­tian pres­i­dent, a Sunni prime min­is­ter, and a Shia as head of par­lia­ment. But the pop­u­la­tion pro­por­tion has dra­mat­i­cally changed and yet peo­ple are not al­lowed to crit­i­cise the sys­tem.

In Iran, de­ci­sions made by gov­ern­ment to in­crease the fuel prices by 100 per cent have re­sulted in demon­stra­tions with huge num­ber of deaths and im­pris­oned peo­ple. But now peo­ple are start­ing to openly talk, be­cause they be­lieve that they have noth­ing to lose any­more.

The right to think, to act, to say things freely needs to be ac­com­pa­nied by a dis­ci­pline to re­spect oth­ers. Very few con­sti­tu­tions men­tion the need to re­spect other peo­ple’s free­dom. The def­i­ni­tion should be revised and men­tion that this right can only ex­ist if we wish the same for all. Peo­ple in jail long for free­dom. Peo­ple liv­ing un­der an op­pres­sive gov­ern­ment also long for free­dom. In the United States, peo­ple the­o­ret­i­cally have ‘free­dom of speech’: The right to say what­ever they’re moved to say. You’ll no­tice the word free in free­dom. Free comes from the Ger­man ‘frei’, mean­ing, ‘to love’. The word friend shares this ori­gin. You can think of free­dom as the con­di­tion in which you have the choice to love any friend you wish.

‘Free­dom is noth­ing but a chance to be bet­ter,’ said Al­bert Ca­mus, a French author, jour­nal­ist and philoso­pher.

Swe­den, Canada, Hol­land are known as the coun­tries which fully re­spect hu­man free­dom and rights. It seems that New Zealand and Aus­tralia are also fol­low­ing them.

Un­less we re-think to­tally the laws which guide us world­wide and we cre­ate real bod­ies, to­tally in­de­pen­dent of po­lit­i­cal pow­ers and which rep­re­sent the peo­ple and con­trol that gov­ern­ment abide by the rules, the fu­ture will be chaotic.

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