20 September 2012
Use and Abuse of the Freedom of Speech Discourse
The violent consequences of past artistic, literary and cultural aggressions against the sanctity
of Islam and the prophet seemed to have not taught us any lessons. The abomination against
theism continues unabated. Claiming to be works of literature or the arts, the perpetrators
have guised behind the cloak of freedom of speech. The notoriety against Islam has been
littered with the likes of Salman Rushdie’s despicable Satanic Verses, through to the ugly
Danish cartoons and the latest “film” which has maliciously maligned prophet Muhammad.
Caricatures of the prophet have today headlined the French press. The pristine beliefs of
Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism have similarly not been spared this irreligious onslaught.
These vulgar and blasphemous provocations are intent on mocking the believers reverence of
their religious text, tenets and their prophets. Specific individuals and interest groups are
unashamedly abusing our noble values of freedom of speech and expression to tarnish the
image of authentic religions, demonizing it and demeaning its prophets with trails of untruths
and unfounded claims.
In response to the film “Innocence of Muslims”, the Muslim in the street is reacting in the only
way he knows, defending the honour of the one Muslims hold high. However, the irrational and
emotional reactions by some Muslims and the violence unleashed, with consequent deaths,
injuries and damage to property is most un-Islamic and distant from the Islamic teachings of
peace, justice and fair-play. Producing cheap and vulgar “works of art” designed to offend
Muslims is easy and is guaranteed to secure instant, even if fleeting fame. Therefore our
responses to sacrilegious acts that is likely to recur should be based on the wisdom and
humanity that the prophet of Islam has taught us.
This unrelenting siege on all religions and her prophets must cease. Governments, civil society,
religious leaders and icons in the literary and film industry must be courageous to condemn
these irresponsible few and prohibit the publication and showing of films and literary works of
a similar nature.
More urgently, we must not allow Muslim zealots, from political platforms or religious
groups to seize the moment and inflame further this most fragile of situations. Fellow Muslims
need to understand that Islam doesn’t need us to defend it, it only needs us to represent it
faithfully and authentically. We call on all to exercise wisdom and humanity and treat one
another with respect and dignity.
Board of Directors
Muslim Professionals Forum