Insulting the prophet may lead to assault
But who is at fault?
To find such insulting “prohibited speech”
Is a bit of a reach
To claim that both parties are equally blameful
Is utterly shameful.
Insults and offenses may have their uses
As convenient excuses.
I’m busy putting together tests and cabinets today, so not as much time to put together verse or prose. The above was prompted by this story on NPR’s All Things Considered. It does a nice job beginning to untangle the gordian knot that is Middle East unrest. One particular passage stood out to me as I listened in the car:
RAZ: Rami Khouri, in reality now, any person in the world – anyone – with access with the Internet can easily set off a conflagration in parts of the Islamic world by simply insulting the Prophet Muhammad. That seems to me to be a very unstable state of affairs.
KHOURI: Well, it’s a criminal act if you do that in the eyes of most Muslims. It’s very insulting. You know, there’s laws in the United States and in France and other places against, for instance, anti-Semitism or denying the Holocaust, which there should be.
RAZ: Well, in the United States, there are no such laws at all. You’re free to do that…
KHOURI: Well, there – no, but there are limits to what people can do in terms of attacking other people. The law limits what you can…
RAZ: There are no limits to speech. Speech is protected in the United States. I mean, you can insult any religion or faith as vile as it may be, and that is protected.
One culture’s protected speech is another’s act of aggression.
Most of the Islamic world seems willing to accept that, whether a particular act of speech is insulting, there is a difference between “taking offense” and “being justified in violent retaliation’. Their reaction is not a conflagration, but a spark, which in most cases would fade harmlessly But when economic and political conditions scatter jet fuel and gunpowder all around, sparks are dangerous.
And it appears there are those who are more than willing to add more explosives to the pile.