As everyone knows, by and large I live under a rock. So I did not appreciate the depravity of the “protests” until my arrival at work this morning when I had my daily roundup of the news on BBC Online. The first image shows what appears to be a white woman in Niqab holding a placard with the words “be prepared for the real holocaust” written across it. Further down the page there is another picture with three more placards displayed, all penned by the same hand. I am almost lost for words. I tighten my lips lest I vomit and hold my eyes lest tears emerge.
We have had our say about the cartoons; now let us have our say about these men and women who have defamed our religion and our Prophet by extension, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him. We must speak up and condemn them, just as those who printed the caricatures were. Our blessed Prophet, peace be upon him, told us: “Islam is good character”. Well look at us!
Of course there are those doubts: who called in rent-a-mob? The compassionate souls involved in the Drop The Debt Campaign and Live8 had to contend with their share of anarchist provocateurs; people who don’t believe in the cause, but do like a good fight. I was once going to Jummah prayer at Regents Park Mosque when journalists were milling about outside. As I hurried along Hanover Gate, I passed someone I assumed to be a journalist going the other way, his ear stuck to his mobile phone. I have often wondered about the snippet of conversation I overheard. It may have been innocent, but still I have doubts. Some people were due to arrive after the prayer and then they would get some good pictures. Perhaps it was just his sound crew; perhaps it was just a camera man. But when I came back out of the mosque after the prayer to the sight of hysterical offensive screaming from a group of men standing on the flowerbed, the TV cameras fixed on them, I had to have my doubts. Even so, even if these people are saboteurs — though sadly it’s quite possible they’re not — it is imperative that we condemn them with as much rigour as that the Danish newspapers were subjected to.
The questions asked by politicians are valid; why did the Police not arrest those individuals who shouted these obscenities and those who carried those words? We should be asking the same questions. We have laws that prohibit incitement to murder and incitement to racial hatred. Arrest them. The situation has become so stupid; having insisted so vehemently that there can be no limits to freedom of speech in Western democracies, we now have a situation where these events were simply allowed to come to pass. Clearly this case actually shows that there can and should be limits to freedom of speech, if only the secular extremists would reflect. As for us Muslims, I hope I never now hear anyone justify those actions. We cannot have it both ways.
As I have pointed out before, in the Islamic worldview a word is an act. Thus to slander someone, backbite or lie are considered reprehensible sins. As said our blessed Prophet: “He who truly believes in God and the Last Day should speak good or keep silent.” This should be our guiding light. Those who wanted to march, protest and picket should find out where those people live and take their protest to them. If you marched to protect the Prophet from the slander of the artists, march now to protect him from the defamation of that crowd. If we do not, our hypocrisy will be telling. We are a community commanded to stand up for truth and justice, but I fear we are becoming something else.