Dr Shomali to BBC: Freedom of speech is not a strong argument for justifying religious insult

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Shafaqna – In an interview with BBC London Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali, the Director of the Islamic Centre of England said: Freedom of speech has to be governed by all moral values.

He added: Surely we cannot reveal people’s secret in the name of freedom of speech.

“Sometimes when you are injured by a sword then it is less painful, because it can recover soon. But if an injury is caused by tongue, then it can never be recovered” Dr. Shomali referred to an Arabic poem.

In respect to the obscene caricature published by the French Magazine, Shomali addressed the publishers by saying:  “It is very important for people who publish [the caricature], that the amount of harm, pain and injury that they may cause by their tongue or pen can be more destructive than someone comes and takes a weapon. Because that’s hurting a body but this is hurting soul, honour and dignity”

“They should realise that for Muslims, hurting their sense of belonging and love and devotion to prophet is very destructive; Because if you physically beat a Muslim so much so that he has to be admitted to hospital he would not be that much hurt than if you insult the prophet” he added.

Director of Islamic Centre of England said: [The Muslim community] think that they are not been given their full right of respect and honour but at the same time I think they will generally understand that this is an episode that would not necessarily show what the British community is thinking about Islam and Muslims.

He went on by saying: I hope we would be able to overcome this bitter experience but at the same time I hope we can get lesson so that we don’t need to go through all these again and again.

In response to the possible reaction by the Muslims to the obscene caricature of Prophet Mohammad (a), Dr. Shomali said: “We need to try to overcome any sense of anger and not be overreacted.”

He went on by saying: “If the Muslim community in the UK feels that there is sympathy and that no one is siding with those who make mockery, then I think they would be able to control themselves.”

Head of Islamic Centre of England addressed the wider community by saying: “[We should] react according to the legal procedures to stop such things happening again, because no one will side with those who insult or humiliate other people, as they harm the cohesion that we have with the British society.”

“… We want to be respectful to everyone. [Therefore] We welcome diversity, … and we want to engage with respectful dialogues”.

The interview delivered by BBC London, a week after the terrorist attacks to the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, at their office in Paris. The magazine has recently republished its post-attack edition the so called “international edition” with over 3 million copies across Europe.

www.shafaqna.com

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