Tauriq Moosa responds to a deplorable opinion piece by Anjem Choudary that accuses satirists of provoking violence.
Because free expression matters more than any one group’s feeling of offence. Because I imagine most Muslims are adults capable of handling criticism of their beliefs – even if they feel offended. Choudary is painting the picture right wingers want: an entire group of people, perched on the spring of outrage, ready to march with billboards at the slightest case of “offence”.
Muslims must speak out against this caricature and be on the frontlines defending free speech, even and especially if it offends them. And media spaces must improve and find better spokespeople.
Stephen Law responds to a pathetic analogy by Iqbal Sacranie, that insulting the Prophet is as bad as insulting a family member, and warrants a “punch in the nose”.
Religions and religious figures are mocked and lampooned for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it’s sometimes done for no other reason than to upset the religious. Let me be clear that I don’t approve of that (though I do defend the right of others to do it).
However, more often than not, the lampooning is done with intention of shattering, if only for a moment, the protective façade of reverence and deference that has been erected around some iconic figure or belief, so that we can all catch a glimpse of how things really are. At such times, lampooning can become great art.
I know enough Muslims (although they’re all fairly sensible, educated, secularized Muslims, so my sample is admittedly biased) to know that they aren’t cheering on murder and terror, and are generally appalled by the acts in France. But at the same time, I see our media pushing two images of Muslims: the “crazy” ones are chopping heads off and calling for death of the infidel, and the “moderate” ones are playing blame-the-victim and rationalizing terror as being “provoked”…by freakin’ cartoons.
Maybe it’s only fair — these are the same media that promote “moderates” on the American side who think a little waterboarding is justifiable, or talk about “surgical strikes” as if they’re humane, so maybe they’re just desensitized. But how about if we see more people speaking out that terror and war and destruction and murder in any cause are inexcusable? And how about more representation by people who think questioning the status quo is a good and honorable thing, rather than treating self-criticism, and religous and ideological criticism, as radical?