Holocaust denial, free speech and Islamophobia

* This article was taken from SoundVision.com Newsletter published on 21 February 2006.


In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Mercy-Giving

Assalamu Alaikum:

This week brought the sad and disturbing news of the burning of churches and more deaths in Turkey and Nigeria in connection to the ongoing controversy about offensive cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad first published in a Danish newspaper. Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet.

Love of the Prophet must not result in a few people once again destroying their future by killing and burning churches. These people by their actions need to seek God’s and their victims’ forgiveness, offer them compensation and reaffirm their faith if they truly want to atone for their misdeeds.

Love of the Prophet must always reflect how merciful and forgiving he was. While we condemn these cartoons, we applaud peaceful protests that Muslims have engaged in well before the media caught on to the story. However, we must dissociate ourselves from those who burn churches and attack innocent people who have nothing to do with causing the offense. The second sad news of the week was more evidence of the double standard applied in dealing with Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. A court in Vienna, Austria handed down a three-year jail term for David Irving, a British historian who denies that the Holocaust ever happened. Irving admitted to the criminal charge of denying that the Nazis sent millions of Jews to the gas chambers.

Irving was arrested in Austria last November, when he was scheduled to give a lecture to students. He was taken into custody based on a warrant issued in 1989 under Austrian laws that make Holocaust denial a crime. Irving had given speeches in Vienna and another Austrian town, Leoben, that year. While it is fitting that Irving was punished for this crime, it is surprising that the same countries that punish those who commit anti-Semitism cannot understand why Muslims are offended by the Danish cartoons. The fact that it becomes an issue of a “free speech” when Muslims are involved, and an odious offense when other religious groups are concerned smacks clearly of Islamophobia.

As the cartoon controversy continues, many Muslims around the world have wisely used this opportunity to educate others about the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

But it is not only non-Muslims who can learn about the Prophet of Islam. Muslims themselves must learn how the Prophet dealt with those who didn’t just insult him, as those who drew and published these cartoons did, but tried to murder him, harm his family, torture his followers and destroy Islam.

This week at SoundVision.com, we invite all, Muslims and non-Muslims, to learn more about the Prophet. In particular, please read our article about how he dealt with his enemies before and after Islam became victorious. It is eye-opening reading, especially for those who were rightly hurt and offended, but reacted the wrong way to the offense.

Please also see our page on the Prophet and read more about his life and contributions to humanity.

Abdul Malik Mujahid