I have just returned from Kosovo, where Gimlekollen since 2005 has been heavily involved in establishing and developing Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication (www.kijac.org). This project has been undertaken by Gimlekollen together with key partner institutions such as Cardiff University (UK) and University of Nebraska Lincoln (US), and with substantial funding 2005-2010 from the Norwegian MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
While in Kosovo for a Board of Governors Meeting and for a number of meetings with key local authorities and partners, I was again reminded of the centrality of freedom of expression.
This led me to the following reflections on freedom of expression – as a Christian theologian and ethicist:
- Freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom that underlies other freedoms (or rights), such as freedom of religion and freedom to form associations/organizations. It is therefore essential today; it seems, to promote freedom of expression in any given society.
- It is also essential to guard the freedom of expression, both legally and in practice, against current pressures and threats. Key lobbyists, such as new secularists, islamists, and gay groups, want to change from ‘freedom of speaking’ to ‘freedom of hearing’. This is a very dangerous and arbitrary route.
- The Christian faith started as a minority faith in the ancient world, dependent on having public and private arenas for free expressions of faith. There is no coercion involved in becoming a Christian, but an open invitation to belief. Such considerations are crucial for understanding the Christian worldview basis for being committed to freedom of expression.
- Gimlekollen is a university college with a Christian foundation. Theologically speaking, our project in Kosovo is an expression of “the cultural mandate”, i.e. «to seek the welfare of the city» and to work for justice and compassion. Promoting freedom of expression is a integrated part of this calling.
Norsk: Jeg har akkurat kommet tilbake fra noen dager i Kosovo, der MhG siden 2005 har hatt Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communication som prosjekt (www.kijac.org). Norske UD har vært hovedsponsor gjennom disse årene. Besøket i Kosovo aktualiserte igjen for meg betydningen av ytringsfrihet.