Surviving the Dystopia of Intolerance and Blasphemy

Syed Ahad Hussain, Senior Staff Writer

First it was a novel by “Muslim” British resident author Salman Rushdie, then a Danish editorial cartoon, then an American humorist having fun on Facebook, and now it’s a YouTube video that portrayed the Muslim prophet Muhammad (peace is upon him) in a hurtful and degrading way. So when will this all end? Why does humanity get reduced to violence, carnage and hatred due to the immature and childish acts of an insensitive person such as Rushdie and/or Swedish cartoonist Lars Viks? The film’s originator is said to be Basseley Nakoula, an American and a Coptic Christian, of Egyptian origin. The intention behind the film may have been to show how unreasonable Muslims are. It shows an understanding of Muslims and of the buttons to push to cause them to show that unreasonableness.

The video caused violent protests all over the world and a few deaths. Who is benefitting from all this? As a Pakistani born Muslim from a strictly religious family, and having read Quran and studied Hadiths (sayings of prophet Mohammad) many times, I know that Islam never justifies violence and hatred. Those people protesting out there are not Muslims by any means, they’re simply extremists. The majority of those protesters haven’t even seen the video and probably never considered peaceful protest using mediums like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter instead of blocking websites and denouncing it.

The amount of blasphemy taking place seems to have spiked, with a French magazine publishing blasphemy in the midst of the protests over the film. It is almost as if the Muslims are being forced to accept the principle that freedom of speech means they are supposed to tolerate anything being said about the most sacred personalities of their religion. Bitter truth- Muslims, when enraged, would never stop being violent in their protests, would never give a thought to the fact that all this violence is making all Muslims look bad.

There should not be any misconception- freedom of speech means the freedom to blaspheme. Islam does not allow such blasphemy. There is a basic conflict here that will not be solved, one way or the other, by the present controversy. The problem for the Muslim world is accepting that the American state has no affiliation with and cannot stop the film. Pastor Terry Jones, a man desperate to get attention just showed his support to the video and Nakoula as a working pastor of a church. The point to remember is that Jones does not represent all Christians. Most Christians would never want to burn the Quran ever; they aren’t as poisonously minded as Jones. Just as Jones does not speak for the whole Christian community, the extremists protesting violently do not represent all of the Muslims.

What is more saddening is that the Pakistani student community doesn’t seem interested in making an effort to clear misconceptions about Islam as a religion and Pakistan as an Islamic republic. I wish to see all Pakistani students uniting and arranging an event to peacefully address the resentment of the poorly-made video, telling each other and non-Muslims that violence is never the answer and that the protesters out there don’t represent us. Muslims should be raising awareness about the Quran and Hadith’s insistence on tolerance, peace, respecting other people’s culture and religion, embracing diversity and portraying Islam, Muslims and people of Pakistan in a humane manner- not the beasts that the media have portrayed us to be. I can only hope to see Muslims being accepted and recognized positively, but Muslims have to achieve this trust themselves, nobody else is going to make that happen for them. I don’t know who we Muslims are waiting for.