Sunday, May 22, 2022

“Islamophobia” case tests Botswana’s balance between free speech and religious tolerance

A ground breaking criminal case, in which a Gaborone woman is charged with uttering words intent on hurting religious feelings of a Muslim compatriot, is expected to spark off a new cultural battle between freedom of speech and religious tolerance.

The state alleges that on the 28 of April, 2009 at Master’s Office Extension 16, in the Gaborone District Administrative office, Nnoki Cutten, with the deliberate intention of hurting the religious feelings of Thurai-Yaa ÔÇô Mooketsi, uttered the following words directed at Mooketsi: “I will remove that shawl of yours; you Muslims do not have peace and you like fighting just like other Muslim believers who are known to believe in fighting; you are going to fight forever without giving up.”

The court may find itself saddled with the difficult question of striking a reasonable balance between freedom of expression and respect for religious feelings. The case is expected to snowball into a public hot button issue with a complex context, many agendas, many active participants and very different audiences because of the multitude of dimensions and the global nature of the controversy.

After the case was mentioned Gaborone’s Broadhurst Magistrate Daniel Nkau postpone it to 24 of August.

Cutten is represented by Onalethata Kambai of Bayford and Associates.

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