Abdallah Allahham, Contributor.
The freedom of speech and expression is the first thing I noticed here when I arrived to study MA in Translation. This kind of freedom can hardly be noticed in my country, and may I say the Arab world in general. This is maybe because we still don’t realize how important it is, and the major role that freedom of expression can play in the development of any country culturally and mentally.
For me, as a student who came from Palestine, Gaza, I noticed the huge difference between my community situation and the situation here. It’s a crucial thing to be open to all cultures and to accept the other side point of view which something I touched very closely here. You can express your thoughts ideas and beliefs freely and you won’t be judged for what you said. At Queen’s University, every week we have a seminar about a certain topic and these topics varies from educational to cultural and political issues; people come from different parts of the world to tell us and share with all of us what they think and what is new in a particular field then they give us the time to ask any questions, and they listen carefully to our thoughts and feedback about different points. This is a fantastic way of sharing information where everybody can contribute to the learning process and help each other to grow and to nourish. Furthermore, this experience affected me personally; now I feel like I am more thoughtful more creative and liberal about different issued and causes.
On the other hand, the story in my country is completely different. I think that people there, and may I say in most of the Arab world, find it difficult to listen and accept someone else’s opinion, especially if it contradicts what you believe to be right. This problem deteriorated further after 2007 because of the radical political changes that took place in Gaza strip when an Islamic party took control of the governance there, and they don’t accept from any one to criticise their way of ruling and managing the situation. Furthermore, it became more difficult for journalists and media people to express and discuss their fears, hopes, thoughts and opinions. I have been through a similar situation because of my work as a translator and interpreter: we were not allowed to translate some certain books or articles because of the people in power doesn’t agree on what is in these books and they don’t know that in this way they deprive the whole community from variable sources of knowledge, a knowledge that may open their minds and help them to be able to further open their minds and express themselves freely without any pressure.
In general, there are many differences and contradictions between the situation in my country and the situation in this open minded country, and I believe freedom of speech and expression is one of the main reasons why the western community is far more developed and more humanized than Arab world communities. The government here allows and encourages people to express their thought and beliefs freely without any pressure or punishments and this helps people to become more creative and thoughtful. I think if we followed the same regulation that are followed there we would be more advanced and care more about human rights and human freedom of expression.