Speakers' Corner: Abdul Malik on Mohammed cartoons and film
A low-budget US film has inspired thousands of muslims across the world to take part in anti-American protests.
The film depicts the Prophet Mohammed, which is discouraged in Islam. Muslim anger has been compounded by the publication in France of obscene cartoons of the Prophet.
Bristol muslim and former city councillor Abdul Malik explains why the film and cartoons are so offensive to muslims.
AS a British-born Muslim, and someone who has been involved with the ins and outs of community politics and various religious debate, I understand that the fundamentals of democracy rest on free speech and freedom of expression.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
However, recently I do feel that many of the expected boundaries have been crossed.
Not only on the issue of causing religious offence, but indeed in being able to tolerate such offence, especially in light of the teachings of the very religion we feel so passionately about and seek to defend.
I feel the debate established from recent actions by a few individuals both on the side of government and religious leaders across the globe lacks the basic and fundamental principles of humanity and compassion.
As principle and as part of my upbringing, I would expect to respect the elders in our community. I would expect others to do the same. I would also expect to be tolerant of people's beliefs and indeed expect the same from others.
Freedom of speech and expression should not be used to tarnish and ridicule someone's religion or faith whether it is Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Judaism or any other religion or belief.
Indeed, if there were similar images of Abraham, Moses or Jesus they would be condemned in the same manner by me, simply because as messengers of God, Holy Prophets, I do attach an amount of significance and respect to them and any attempt to ridicule them would be considered disrespectful.
The video on You Tube and images are clearly insensitive, offensive, highly disrespectful and wrong on many accounts.
The issue has quickly become about the inability of some Muslims to understand or recognise the important principle of freedom of expression that is an important part of our democratic society (contained in article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998). But I feel it needs also to be about the arrogance and ignorance of the European countries to understand why Muslims around the world condemn attempts to deride their Prophet and religious belief.
One must question the intention of some publishers when they know that the Muslim world is already upset by a video on You Tube, and then choose to publish a few equally offensive cartoons to cause fury and to provoke further violence and religious hatred. I feel this humanitarian ignorance is as criminal as the violence that their publications provoke and the destruction that follows.
Images of Prophet Mohammed have long been discouraged in Islam, however today it seems that there is little understanding of why this is so. To Muslims, Prophet Mohammed is the last in the line of figures, which included Abraham, Moses and Jesus, but which found its supreme fulfilment in Mohammed.
Muslims believe that he was visited by Angel Gabriel, who commanded him to memorise and recite the verses sent by God which became the Holy Koran and that he completed and perfected the teaching of God throughout history.
Muslims believe that Mohammed was the messenger of Allah, we extrapolate that all his actions were willed by God, hence any offence that is aimed at the Prophet is taken very personally, and there is a duty upon a true believer to respond.
In Islam we are taught to respect the Prophet more than our parents, as a result of this very personal relationship a singular love and veneration attaches to the personality of Prophet Mohammed himself.
Muslims see an insult aimed at the Prophet one that is aimed at their family or themselves and react in self defence.
In essence, any attempt to depict the prophet in illustration, which clearly ridicules him is therefore an attempt to offend and insult the large Muslim community and the religion of Islam itself.
What needs to be considered today is whether activities used to tarnish someone's religion which forms an intrinsic part of their existence should be allowed in European democracies which pride themselves on strong principles of equality and protection of human rights for all, regardless of their background.
The repetitive publishing of the images and their availability on YouTube is not only disrespectful but unnecessary in the present climate in which Muslims across the globe feel alienated, threatened and routinely despised by many, and threatened especially by the far right elements in the West.
This feeling of hate towards a particular religious belief fuels groups like the BNP and EDL and have been the excuse for terror in its most extreme form, as in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik.
We can only pray that people are patient when provoked and they are able to disregard the abuse, realising that in any religion or civilised society violence is not allowed and is condemned by a majority.