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Basic Freedom

James Woody

Translation Louise Thunin


The feeling of insecurity caused by acts of terrorism and the publicity surrounding the recruiting of Jihadist groups have led to a parliamentary debate in France over a proposed anti-terrorist law. Among suggested clauses are the suppression of family allowances, the withdrawal of passports and the blocking of Internet sites. To what lengths would we not go, to preserve our right to safety ? Our basic freedoms, among which freedom of speech and of movement stand foremost, thus become the first victims. Freedom even becomes suspicious as a factor favoring terrorism by allowing it to spread. Freedom would be an objective ally of all that threatens us.

Alexandre Vinet, a Swiss theologian (1797-1847), declared : « Even if all dangers were found in liberty and all tranquility in slavery, I would still prefer liberty, for liberty is life and slavery is death. » Chipping away at our basic freedoms in favor of our right to security is a mistake which boils down to serving the interests of terrorism. Because what terrorism seeks above all is to destroy the freedom to be oneself. It encourages us to play the wrong part, that of the party attempting to strike back at its attacker in the same violent terms. Barbarianism feeds on violence. Therefore, it could never transform us on the pretext that a threat was suddenly bearing down on us. Only by offering each person valid reasons for existing other than through wearing wolf’s clothing can we seriously check the radicalization of latent violence. Security cannot be granted by decree. It develops through freedom of expression and the free dissemination of good reasons to hope. The best ally of security remains freedom.


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À propos Gilles

a été pasteur à Amsterdam et en Région parisienne. Il s’est toujours intéressé à la présence de l’Évangile aux marges de l’Église. Il anime depuis 17 ans le site Internet Protestants dans la ville.

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