Date :Monday, July 6th, 2020 | Time : 10:13 |ID: 152895 | Print

Abolfazl Fateh’s letter to the Chief Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat

SHAFAQNA- Following the publication of a series of caricatures in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Abolfazl Fateh wrote a letter to the director of this newspaper.

Freedom of expression and criticism without stuttering are essential to a growing society and are welcomed by benevolent people. But as far as we understand, the same Islam that agrees with criticism, is opposed to insulting and being offensive with anyone with any position and any religion, and even with ungodly people. Political differences between countries should not be extended to symbols respected by nations. In no art book, the philosophy of art has been reduced to insulting the sacredness and mysteries of nations.

It does not matter if these caricatures are against the sanctities of Iraq or Iran or any other nation, religion or denomination, including Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, etc., but what is important is that the mission of art and caricature is not insulting. Insulting anyone in any place and in any form and content is the method of those who do not have a strong logic and argument for criticism. In some Western countries, you may see media behavior or unexpected caricature, but let’s not forget that they do not consider these cases as insults, and their impressive media does not do what is called insult in their culture.

Neither insulting the sanctities and mysteries of the Shias nor insulting the sanctities and secrets of the Sunnis have been accepted. We need to talk to each other in a better way. In order not to see one side of the issue and not be unfair, I accept that in our media, there have been cases of offenses and insults to the sanctities and the Sunni scholars, but you should know that our knowledgeable scholars have forbidden these measures which are not approved by them.

I conclude my speech with the statement of Imam Ali’s (AS) honorable book of Nahjal-Balagha, addressed to myself and you: “Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself.”

According to Shafaqna, the full text of the letter is as follows:

In the name of God

Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Mr. Ghassan Charbel

Greetings and best regards

The pride of Islam is that it considers criticism as a divine gift and does not consider any character to be immune from hearing criticism. The history of Islam is full of explicit statements by the people to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A.S) and some caliphs, and to the day when the people could clearly criticize the caliphs and the rulers, many deviations could be controlled, and when the doors of criticism were closed and the rulers resorted to repression and tyranny, the doors of deviation and corruption were also opened in Islamic societies.
Therefore, freedom of speech and criticism without stuttering are necessary for a growing society and are welcomed by benevolent people. But as far as we understand, the same Islam that agrees with criticism is opposed to insulting and offending anyone with any position and any religion or even ungodly people.

In recent months, as the Islamic Ummah has been embroiled in divisions, disputes, and inefficiencies, Asharq Al-Awsat has repeatedly published abnormous caricatures about the sanctities of the Shias. Concerning the latest caricature, the newspaper explained that it did not mean Iraq’ scholars, but Iran’s. We accept that the caricature did not mean the scholars of Iraq, but you are well aware that the dress of lordship and turban are among the most respected sanctities of the Shia community, whether in Iraq or in Iran or anywhere in the world, and the political differences between countries should not be extended to the symbols respected by nations.

The task of caricature is to reflect the prominent and awakening or critical concepts using artistic nuances, and to highlight or illuminate the angles that cannot be seen except with the eyes of the art and the artist. The philosophy of the art has not been reduced to insulting the sacredness and mysteries of the nations, in the art books. It doesn’t matter if these caricatures are against the sanctities of Iraq or Iran or any other nation, religion or denomination, including Christianity, Judaism, Zarathustra, etc., but what is important is that the mission of the art and the caricature is not insulting. Insulting anyone, in any place, in any form and in any content, is the method of those who do not have a strong logic and argument for criticism.

In some Western countries, you may see media behavior or unexpected caricatures, but do not forget that they do not consider it as an insult, and their impressive media does not do what is called insult in their culture. Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper is expected to prevent the opening of insulting doors between the followers of religions and sects and cultures by reconsidering its procedure, which is contrary to morality, sharia and human culture. Today, if you do so, you should know that you have opened the doors to others’ similar methods, and it won’t be long before we will come across a society full of caricatures and insulting products called “Art Productions” from here and there.

Today’s Islamic society needs awareness, logic, peace, discussion and cultural behavior. Who does not know that raining insults and offenses to each other will not add value to any thought, idea and stream, and these methods, especially in Islamic societies, will only result in tarnishing the image of Muslims and offending Muslims in the public eyes. In addition, it will cause enmity and resentment among Muslims. In order not to see the issue unilaterally and not to be unfair, I accept that in our media, there have been cases of insults and offenses to the Sunnis’ sanctities and scholars, but you should know that our knowledgeable scholars have forbidden these actions which are not approved by them.

So you and we are expected to remind our like-minded media friends anywhere in the world that these actions are reprehensible, and we should all use the right and professional way to raise awareness and critique. Neither offending the sanctities of the Shias nor to the sanctities of the Sunnis have been accepted. We need to talk to each other in a better way.

I conclude my speech with the statement of Nahjal-Balagha, the honorable book of Imam Ali (A.S), addressed to myself and you: “Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself.” (Letter No. 31)

Abolfazl Fateh

Saturday, July 4, 2020

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