Are Muslims entitled to be offended?
I’ve been involved with a couple of conversations simultaneously about the ongoing saga of the cartoons of (the prophet) Mohammed (pbuh) and thought I’d share my thoughts.
Some bloggers have been posting some of the cartoons to protest; one blogger actually told me that although he acknowledges that it is rude to insult people’s beliefs and wouldn’t choose to wear a T-Shirt with the insulting cartoons, if the government infringed his freedom of speech by making it illegal, it would be his ‘civic duty to wear the shirt, regardless of the offence caused.’ This sentiment and view seems to be widespread amongst non-Muslims all over the world.
Is this a tenet of civilised society?
Is free speech is a greater and a more sacred value than tolerance or respect?
When the cartoons were first published, the people protested all over the world. They demonstrated to show their anger and disgust. To the non-Muslim this may be a trivial thing to get worked up about, but to the Muslim it’s not.
Isn’t ‘civilised’ society supposed to hear all points of view and be all inclusive?I was shocked to read that many of these bloggers were appalled by the petty responses of some Muslim governments over the repeated publications. The Muslim governments haven’t done anything to represent their people’s sentiments but even so their comments beg the question: how do the non-Muslim bloggers out there expect the Muslims to respond?
Ignoring the insult is not an option. If Muslim governments are supposed to be representing the Muslims, then surely these governments should take whatever measure is appropriate, according to the majority Muslim view. Boycotts hardly damage the west. If they did, I can assure you there would be more activity between politicians on all sides. The economic climate is far too fragile to risk any real waves.
So here are a few questions I’d like to ask the non-Muslims out there:
1. If the West holds free speech as sacred, why should the Muslims have to conform to this?
Islam doesn’t allow insulting people’s beliefs and insulting the prophet of God is offensive. Free speech may be a sacred value to you, but it’s not to the Muslims.
2. Why should they measure things from the western yardstick and accept the insults?
3. If governments are supposed to be representing their people, why do Muslim governments not have the right to take any response necessary or considered appropriate?
4. Boycotts are individuals deciding to protest whilst governments sit idly. What would be your response if Muslim governments decided to listen to their people and stopped pumping out oil to benefit economies of the West?
5. If it meant dire economic consequences for western economies, would the non-Muslims out there still defend their sacred free speech