Tuesday, 10 March 2015

A response to MAF demands

Comment on Be Careful with Mohammad:

As a non-believer I am tiring of religious zealots from any religion telling me what to think and do, or more usually, what not to think and what not to do. 

The assumption of religious entitlement to preach to all is alienating those who do not share such beliefs.

And the demand to "be careful" carries with it an implicit threat. 

What happens if by mistake or on purpose I am not "careful" enough for the anonymous people behind Muslim Action Forum?

The ominous demand to "be careful" rings alarm bells in our communities.

Such high-handed demands from a religious group on all fellow citizens - believers and non-believers alike - give excuses to far right groups to answer back in defiance.  And recent events show that the inarticulate response of the far right is usually displayed in their disruptive and costly street protests.

These demands from the Muslim Action Forum could be seen as inciting the far right. 

Then there is the question of who decides what is an "insult" to Mohammad? From where I am sitting it seems almost any comment about Mohammad or any depiction of Mohammad may be seen as an "insult".

For example I have read vicious comments from Muslims upset at the spelling of Mohammad (as shown on the MAF banner), as they insist the spelling should be Muhammed or one of the many other possible spellings.

Indeed, before seeing this banner I have not come across this particular spelling of the name (and it is not accepted by my spell-checker). Is the MAF certain this is the correct spelling accepted by Muslims everywhere? Of course not, because the MAF speaks only for the MAF, contributing to the general confusion of what is "allowed" in free speech in a free democracy.    

So sensitive are some Muslim commentators about Mohammad that they deny that Mohammad has been portrayed throughout history by Muslims themselves - but he has. See herehere and here for just a few examples.

Therefore picturing Mohammad is not the real issue, as he has been portrayed many times by Muslims themselves. It is rather any depiction that is perceived as critical or satirical or lacking in respect or otherwise flawed that is the problem for some Muslims.  

It should not be. If the faith is strong it is not threatened by jokes and satire.    

The Muslim Action Forum also contains instructions to British Muslims about how to vote in elections.  

Who are you people to set certain questions to determine which MP to vote for? British citizens are never more free and independent as in the secrecy of casting a vote.  

As free and independent individuals we vote in the privacy of the voting booth for whoever we like to represent us in parliament. Votes are usually based on our own assessment of character, policies and Party, not from a questions game set by others with an agenda for power.

My message to the anonymous enthusiasts behind Muslim Action Forum is to "Be careful with Mohammad" as much as you like within the privacy of your own beliefs, and you are absolutely free to do so.

Freer than people of different faith and of no faith are in some Muslim countries, for example.

You are also free and indeed encouraged to vote into power whoever you think best represents you and your interests. Please, go ahead, enjoy this freedom, so rare, recent, fragile and so envied in so many other places of the world.

But it is entirely counter-productive to expect and demand that others follow your instructions in this most private act.  

Just as it is not acceptable to threaten others to "Be careful" about some tenet or other in your religion. That is imposing your religious beliefs upon others, which inevitably invites stiff resistance.

Religious zealots like you in the MAF are free to believe what you like as long as it does not impose on the beliefs of others.  

Religious zealots like you in the MAF are not free to threaten others or to interfere in the basic human dignity of the voter.   

by Barbara Suzuki

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