Thanks Osama for your comments. You ask a very important question; Why do Americans have the right to burn the Quran? I think many Egyptians and Muslims have the same question and are upset the American government does not stop people from burning the Quran. Freedom of Speech is probably the most important American value and it is not understood by many Egyptians and many interpret allowing the burning of the Quran as proof that the American government does not respect Islam. This is an uneducated view.
I think it may be difficult for people from countries without freedom of speech to understand but I will try to explain. It is also legal to burn the Bible, the Torah or any other book in the USA.
If the American government says "it is now illegal to burn the Quran." Should the Quran be the only book that can't be burned? I assume you think it also should be illegal to burn the Bible or Torah. What other books should not be allowed to be burned? Who will decide what books go on the list of books that can't be burned?
Should we consider any one person being hurt by the burning of a book as enough reason to make it illegal? Should the American flag be allowed to be burned? Can I burn a big picture of George Bush or Barack Obama? This may hurt George Bush or his families feelings, is this a good enough reason to make it illegal? Again, who decides what can be burned and what cannot? Whoever has the power to decide what can be burned and what cannot has a lot of power. Americans believe that politicians cannot be trusted and we are afraid if we give a politician (or group of politicians) a lot of power then they will, at least eventually, abuse the power, take away rights and oppress the people. We say "absolute power absolutely corrupts." Do you agree? Do you think Egyptian politicians abuse their power and oppress the people and limit their freedom of speech? Do you believe Egyptian politicians can be trusted? If you believe they cannot be trusted, what can be done to fix the situation in Egypt?
To prevent politicians from oppressing the people, the American constitution guarantees rights for all American individuals that no politician can take away. The most important right is freedom of speech. Even if the president decided he wants to end freedom of speech he cannot do it. The constitution is more powerful than the President. In America, I am not scared that if I criticize the government I will be punished because my freedom of speech is protected. In Egypt, can you speak your opinion freely and publicly criticize the government without fear?
The point is that if you start eliminating freedom of speech in special cases then there can be many "special" cases and one person or group must decide what is "special," and if there are many special cases then freedom of speech can be destroyed completely by that person or group and then I will be scared to speak my opinion. The person or group that controls and limits your speech is too powerful and this is dangerous and can lead to a society of people scared to criticize that group. This is the situation in many countries today.
You wrote that you think freedom of speech should not include speech that hurts the other.
If an Iraqi burns the flag of the USA to express a strong rejection of the American war and American government's foreign policy, this may hurt some Americans feelings. But I support the flag burner's freedom, even if it will hurt my feelings because I believe the flag burner's freedom to "speak" (by burning a flag) his opinion is more important than my right to have my feelings protected. Do you think the Iraqi should not be allowed to burn the flag because it will hurt my feelings?
If I go on TV and say, Barack Obama is a bad president, this may hurt his feelings. Should this be illegal also? A millions different actions may hurt someone's feelings, should they all be made illegal? Hurting someone physically is a different matter, it is illegal and it is the duty of any government to protect people from physical harm but I do not believe it is possible (or desirable) to protect everyone's feelings.
If a group of American Muslims announces they will burn the Bible because they feel Christians are at war with Muslims, should this burning be illegal? If this really happened in America, it would be legal. And if a group of Christians threatened to attack the Muslims when they burn the bible, the police (maybe Christian policemen, maybe Muslim policemen, Jewish policemen or atheist policeman) would protect the Muslims burning the bible from violence by the Christians. Many American Christian policeman would say "I do not support you burning the bible but I will sacrifice my life to defend your freedom to burn it." Can you understand this?
You also wrote that the Quran belongs to Muslims. This may be your belief but it is in conflict with the law of property rights. I am not Muslim but I own a copy of the Quran and have it in my house. Does this mean that I do not own it? I do not believe any religion can claim to own other people's possessions.
You also wrote that saying I have the right to burn the Quran is like me saying I have the right to burn your house. I do not think it is like that at all. You own your house and I own my Quran. I will not burn your house and I expect that you will not take my Quran from me.
And do you really think that someone burning the Quran is exactly the same as someone burning your house or killing you? I believe you are trying to express how important the Quran is to you but it is very difficult for me to believe that you really think, one person, anywhere in the world burning the Quran is equal to you being killed. How many times do you think copies of the Quran have been burned in history? There may be ten Qurans being burned right now as you read this sentence and you would have no idea that it was happening so I do not believe it is the same as killing you or burning your house.
I have a question for you:
Does it really hurt Islam or Allah to burn the Quran? I think that Allah is much stronger and bigger than this and cannot be hurt.
I personally think the problem is that the media and the Muslim public gives too much attention to ignorant, hateful people who want to burn the Quran. There are 6 billion people in the world and if one idiot burning the Quran can cause thousands of Muslims to go to the streets in protest, then I think that that one person is controlling those thousand Muslims.
I think the solution is to ignore people who burn the Quran.
I also understand that in the Quran it says that the Bible and the Torah were corrupted by men but that Allah will protect the Quran. Do you trust in this or feel that you must personally work to protect the Quran?
You also wrote "freedom without limits is not a good place for humans."
First, there are limits on freedom in the USA. I, as an American, cannot yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater when there is no fire and say "this is free speech and is protected." It is not protected because it will endanger people and affects public safety. I also cannot say "I plan to kill the President." This speech is not protected by the US constitution because it talks of a plan to break the law and kill someone. I cannot publish lies in my newspaper about a person and say it is free speech. The person can take me to court and win compensation from me for me printing lies about him. I cannot go into an African-American neighborhood with many white people chanting "Blacks go back to Africa" because such speech presents a clear and imminent threat to public safety so this speech is not protected and I can be arrested for doing this.
There are many more examples of situations where freedom of speech is not protected in the USA but burning the Quran is not one of them because it does not threaten public safety, or plan to break any law, or tell any lies about another person, etc.
Many Egyptians I have spoken to, believed that there are no limits on freedom in the USA. This is not true. Why do some Egyptians believe this? Where does this idea come from? No freedoms in the USA are absolute. Americans' freedoms extend only so far as they do not infringe on the protected freedoms of others. I prefer a society where I can speak freely and criticize the government and whoever I want to criticize without fear (even if it means that I must sometimes accept that people will say things that hurt my feelings) to a society where I am afraid or I may go to prison if I speak my opinions about the government freely. What type of society do you prefer? Do you think there is a third possibility? Most Americans believe there are only two possibilities so we must choose.
I would say that any society that does not give equal protection to free speech will never be free. I think Egypt is a good example of this.