British Muslims Protest Against Blasphemous Cartoons
By M Ghazali Khan
Milli Gazette Online
14 February 2006
More than 10,000 demonstrators of a varied background rallied in the Trafalgar Square of London against the offensive caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon him) published in Denmark and other European countries on February 11. In contrast to violent protests around the world, this London rally, organised mainly by Muslim organisations and supported by the Mayor of London Mr Ken Livingstone, faith bodies and secular pressure groups turned out to be a unity of civilised people believing in mutual respect and decency. Speakers included Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, anti-war MP George Galloway, representatives of CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), Church of England, the Sikh community, and delegates from Muslim organisations, including Yvonne Ridley — British journalist who, after being arrested and released by the Taliban in Afghanistan, has embraced Islam. Speakers deplored the vilification of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as sheer racism and Islamophobic.
Protesters carried placards with messages, “Muhammd (S) Mercy to Mankind”, “Muhammad (S) Symbol of Freedom and Honour”, “United Against Incitement”. Unlike two other rallies organised by the Hizb-uttehrir and Al Muhajiroun, in which placards with threat of repeat of 9/11 and 7/7 were used and one participant had also dressed himself as a suicide bomber — who later was found to have a criminal record and has now been imprisoned — participants in this London rally, comprising of young children, teenagers, young and elderly men and women from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds displayed exemplary discipline and calm.
It was such a unique rally that despite of its multi-cultural and multi-ethnic make-up there did take place any rowdyism worth the name and not a single arrest was made. Strangely, while the media underplayed the event and at a time when Muslim unity is the need of the time, some Muslim organisations have called the rally as having the patronage of the government ignoring the fact that not even a single speaker compromised on what could be and should be said to deplore and protest against such an outrageous crime as the publication of profane caricatures. Unfortunately extremism has gripped a tiny section of the community to the extent that anyone who talks of the middle path, an approach enjoined by the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), is regarded as a lesser Muslim. Their intolerance for each other has grown so much that the Deobandis and Barelvis regard their moderate U’lema as lacking in Iman. Despite the fact that the London rally was non-sectarian and was attended by Muslims of all shades and was also addressed by a known Barelvi a’alim Maulana Shahid Raza, a section of the Barelvi group has formed its own organisation viz. British Action Committee. The group has announced its own demonstration on 18 February.
While Muslims fail to resolve their internal differences, anti-Muslim newspapers in Europe have shown their solidarity with the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten by blatantly reprinting the outrageous cartoons. And while British newspapers have, perhaps, for the first time, demonstrated sensitivity to the Muslim feelings by not publishing the cartoons, a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times shows that Britain is pessimistic about community relations with British Muslims. Sixty seven percent expect tensions to worsen while two to one back the reprint of the cartoons in the European newspapers and 88% say that violent protests in the Muslim world are “gross over-reaction” and 58% expressed anger at placards seen in London last week.
This may sound an exaggeration but the fact is that there can be no word other than an extremist for the Western society that has adopted the approach of “every thing goes” and “nothing is sacred”. How else can one describe a society in which in the name of freedom of speech and expression media can host a debate on whether bestiality is right or wrong and whether incest (marriages between brother and sister) should be allowed? By its unreasonable and un-Islamic approach a virtually tiny group of “misled” Muslims is making the situation worse. No Muslim should forget the fact that if a non-believer begins to hate Islam because of his/her acts, on the day of judgement he/she will be asked by Allah about it.