Deliberate Provocation

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Publication of Prophet Mohammad’s (pbuh) caricature is a deliberate provocation to further demean Islam

WHEN you type “respect” in the online Cambridge dictionary search section, you will get this: “admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities”. It is a natural tendency to admire good things or behaviour, and it is also natural to feel uncomfortable with people who have the tendency to intentionally disrespect a culture, religion or language. Therefore, the reaction of the Muslim world to the caricatures of the prophet Mohammad (pbub) is nothing but a natural reaction to an act of utter disrespect by some people in various countries especially France and Denmark. The blasphemous images were published by countries like Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Norway. These countries also house some of the most respected educated communities in the world with a backbone of some of the top ranked educational establishments, and yet they have shown no respect for Muslims by constantly engaging in demeaning the image of Islam.

Isn’t this contradictory to the basic tenants of education? How can someone deliberately indulge in spreading hate against religious personalities, even though they may disagree with their teachings? Isn’t a routine to agree and disagree on a scientific research problem, and that behaviour is not seen an insult to scholarly community standard but often praised for raising some of the critical questions that otherwise would have remained untouched. But the sanity of those communications remains intact in the ability to argue without engaging in name calling.

Who abuses: someone who has lost the power to communicate sensibly, or someone who is deliberately doing it to fulfil a set agenda. Therefore, it is safe to argue that the wave of atrocities on Muslims and the attack on Islam is a pre-planned and is an organized campaign that will not end anytime soon. How can it end when the motive is to generate a mass hysteria about Islam in the entire world, and this has started decades ago with 9/11 attack in America as a recent incident that fuelled its rise.

Interestingly, the religion of Islam is not about hate but peace and was founded to bring justice in the world and it proclaims that no living or non-living entities should be worshipped expect Allah, the one God that controls what is hidden and what is revealed. How ironic that those who have power at their disposal feel threatened by powerless Muslims just because Islam teaches self-respect and obedience to Allah and his emissaries. For them, this means that a typical Muslim cannot be tamed. Historically, Muslims have emerged winners after each struggle and the life of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is the best example of perseverance and truthfulness to achieve the goal of enlightening the world about the message that Islam has for the known and unknown worlds.

It is clear that people who have published the caricatures of the beloved Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) are well aware about the reaction from the Muslims. It seems that the plan is to deliberately provoke with a motivation to further demean Islam. This becomes clear when we see double standards with respect to Muslims especially their life style. For example, the call for ban on the Muslim women head and face cover has been one of the most intensely debated questions in French society. Why? Because the society argues that the Muslim women’s veil is a form of oppression, and therefore they have the right to protect the fellow citizens from the religious oppression enacted upon them by Muslim men. Strangely enough, this they are doing without asking the Muslim women about their opinion on why they are practicing veil, and thereby directly contradicting and violating their own French constitution which guarantees equal rights to women, and secular life to all without distinction of origin, race or religion. Here is the text from the French constitution: “France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralized basis. Statutes shall promote equal access by women and men to elective offices and posts as well as to position of professional and social responsibility.”

French President recently said “Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today, we are not just seeing this in our country”, and this cannot come out of blue and must be part of the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has become part of his life now. The various unfortunate attacks by people affiliated with Islam have helped such hate mongering, and therefore, it is important to investigate such barbaric attacks and connect the dots to understand the full picture of who is doing it and why. Until then it will continue and Islam will be used frequently and particularly during the election times.

A Nigerian-American writer and photographer, aptly summed it up Facebook. They wrote, “The people of Charlie –who in my view were simultaneously the victims of a terrifying, unspeakable crime, and the producers of an antic and gross publication (nothing wrong with that) that was at the same time deeply prejudiced – finally step away from the mask of ‘it’s satire and you don’t get it’ to state clearly that Muslims, all of them, no matter how integrated, are the enemy,” he said.

“Reading this extraordinary editorial by Charlie, it’s hard not to recall the vicious development of ‘the Jewish question’ in Europe and the horrifying persecution it resulted in. Charlie’s logic is frighteningly similar: that there are no innocent Muslims, that ‘something must be done’ about these people, regardless of their likability, their peacefulness, or their personal repudiation of violence. Such categorisation of an entire community as an insidious poison is a move we have seen before.”

 

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Dr Afroz Ahmad Shah

Author is Assistant Professor in Structural Geology, Physical & Geological Sciences at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam. He can be reached at: afroz.shah@ubd.edu.bn

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