I got numerous messages and telephone calls from Western journalists and friends who were seeking a comment or an explanation to the angry reactions in the Muslim world against the insulting film posted on the Internet and clearly aimed at Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
This clearly isn’t new. We have all been there before, I explained. This is not the first episode of its kind wherein Muslims reacted with fury.
Memories of the protests against Salman Rushdie and his vile novel “Satanic Verses” have not been forgotten and, of course, the infamous Danish cartoons that equally turned into a global incident.
I elaborated that Muslims have a very special relationship with the Prophet.
They don’t easily react in anger when anyone is insulted or attacked in any form but when it is about the Prophet it is simply unacceptable.
In order to understand and appreciate Muslim piety and Islam itself, it is necessary to take into account the long history of veneration for the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). His life, marriages, miracles and heavenly journey are all subjects of great and special religious devotions. Only when a complete reading and understanding of him will it become clear why Muslims believe that he was sent as a “Mercy to all mankind”.
The famous and greatly celebrated Indian poet Mohammed Iqbal described this devotion when he said, “Love of the Prophet runs like blood in the veins of his community”. Once the complete picture of the relationship between Muslims and the Prophet has been understood only then would anyone understand the reasons behind the anger and the protests.
Freedom of speech should not provide the “right” to insult and denigrate religious symbols and followers of any religion should not be weak to be affected by such abuse.
It is high time to put an end to the chaos that followed the abuse of the freedom of speech. Such an example of abuse is clearly made to insult and smear, nothing more and nothing less. But it should be considered a criminal act which should have an appropriate punishment.
Religion is a very personal and sensitive subject and any attack against one’s belief is expected to get an ugly reaction. Freedom of expression should never be freedom to insult.