The answer to this question cannot be that simple, with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ What is prompting me to raise this question is the over simplification and even misrepresentation of the reality when I hear public voices, including Muslims, saying that the West enjoys political freedom. Maybe it is true that apparently in the western countries political freedom is protected by constitution and charters of human rights. However, I believe that we have to look at the full picture, not at selective sections that seem politically correct. The West might have some freedom, which is limited in other regions of the world, but it lacks other things which still exists in the rest of the globe. Therefore, I would like to underline some nuances and subtlties related to political freedom in the West.
First, the western governments are very good at PR. They’ve mastered the art of carefully painting a nice political picture. They pay extra focus when it comes to the public image.
For example, when western governments consider a person to be a problem, someone who speaks independently, they will never attack that individual directly. On the contrary, they will find indirect and insidious ways of attacking him or her while they will make sure that nothing appears as if the government is doing this to restrict the political freedom.
So, the West sees the political freedom and the intellectual freedom of speech with much concern. They will not tolerate this, but they will find ways to restrict it without being noticed. Governments will use workplaces, employers, tax agencies, family members, the courts of law, and even religious institutions to attack anyone who attempts to speak independently, but this will not be done in the name of the government.
In addition, the western governments apply a very intricate and subtle political control well in advance. This takes place particularly in the educational system and schools. A student that shows signs of disobedience, someone who raises really unusual questions, someone who values freedom and independence, someone who refuses to cheat in exams and so on and so forth, such students are listed, in my view, as problematic and they are put under a certain category. If they insist in their innocent and genuine pursuit of freedom and justice, as they usually are good and talented students, they are not allowed to succeed in the first place.
So, those who are adults and have the ability to write and speak and articulate themselves, who have graduated from important universities, and who are already settled with a good job and a family, they have passed the filters of the system. So, it is not true that the West tolerates free speech, but we have to look at the ways they restrict it. We live in the time of information, so such political oppression in the West is applied early in the childhood based on the information collected about each and every child or student.