The very same logic that Muslims cite in their ongoing efforts to criminalize anti-Islamic speech in Western nations would require the criminalization of Islam itself.
Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Mohammed al-Issa argues that “Europe must do more to … criminalize religious hate speech.” In an April 9 interview with Reuters, this prominent Saudi said: “We believe that European countries, where there is much debate now, and other countries around the world … need to … criminalize hatred and contempt for adherents of religions because this threatens the safety of the community.”
The “hatred and contempt for adherents of religions” that Muslims complain of is ecumenical code for “Islamophobia.” Thus, on April 5 Ömer Serdar, a senior official from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, announced that he and a “group of Turkish lawmakers will travel to the heart of Europe,” where they will “investigate whether authorities take measures against the hostility of Islamophobic discrimination in Muslims’ daily lives.” Afterwards, “they will hold meetings with state authorities during their visits to Germany, France, and Belgium” and “discuss the issue of marginalization.”
All of this is in line with policies of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the “collective voice of the Muslim World” and second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations. For years — especially after a Muslim massacred a dozen people at France’s Charlie Hebdo offices for publishing satirical caricatures of Muhammad — the OIC has called on the United Nations to criminalize the “defamation of religions,” meaning criticism of Islam.
Everyone — especially Muslims — seems to miss the grand irony. If international laws would ban speech, cartoons, books, and films on the basis that they defame religions, those laws would ban the entire religion of Islam itself.
Islam is the only religion whose core texts actively, unequivocally defame other religions, including by name.
Consider what “defamation” means. Typical dictionary definitions include “to blacken another’s reputation,” and “false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel.” But in Muslim usage, defamation simply means anything that insults or offends Islamic sensibilities.
However, to gain traction among the international community, the OIC and others cynically maintain that such laws should protect all religions from defamation, not just Islam (even as Muslim governments ban churches, destroy crucifixes, and burn Bibles). Disingenuous or not, the OIC’s wording suggests that any expression that “slanders” the religious sentiments of others should be banned.
What, then, do we do with Islam’s core religious texts — beginning with the Koran itself?
The Koran repeatedly slanders, denigrates, and blackens the reputation of other specific religions. Consider these passages about Christianity:
— Koran 5:73: “Infidels are they who say God is one of three,” a reference to the Christian Trinity.
— Koran 5:72: “Infidels are they who say God is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary.”
— Koran 9:30: “[T]he Christians say the Christ is the son of God … may God’s curse be upon them!”
The word “infidel” (kafir) is one of Islam’s most derogatory terms. What if a core Christian text — or even a Western cartoon — declared: “Infidels are they who say Muhammad is the prophet of God — may God’s curse be upon them”?
If Muslims consider that a great defamation against Islam — and they would, with all the attendant rioting, murders, etc. — then by the same standard, it must be admitted that the Koran defames Christians and Christianity.
Consider how the Christian Cross, venerated by billions, is defamed in Islam. According to canonical hadiths, when he returns, Jesus (“Prophet Isa”) will destroy all crosses. Muhammad, who never allowed the cross in his presence, once ordered someone wearing a cross to “throw away this piece of idol from yourself.”
Unsurprisingly, the cross is banned and often destroyed whenever visible in many Muslim countries.
What if Christian books or Western movies specifically named the sacred symbols of Islam — perhaps the Black Stone in Mecca’s Ka’ba — as “idolatry” that Muhammad himself will return and destroy? If Muslims would consider that defamation against Islam — and they would, with all the attendant rioting, murders, etc. — then by the same standard it must be admitted that Islamic teaching defames the Christian Cross.
Here is perhaps the most particularly odious form of defamation against Christian sentiment: According to Islam’s most authoritative Koranic exegetes, including the revered Ibn Kathir, Muhammad will be married to and copulating with the Virgin Mary in paradise.
Imagine if anything — from a core Christian text to a cartoon — portrayed, say, Muhammad’s “favorite” wife Aisha, the “Mother of Believers,” as being married to and having sex with a false prophet in heaven.
If Muslims would consider that a great defamation against Islam — and they would, with all the attendant rioting, murders, etc. — then by the same standard it must be admitted that Islam’s most authoritative Koranic exegetes defame the Virgin Mary.
Such defamation of Christianity is hardly limited to Islam’s core scriptures. In fact, modern-day Muslim scholars and sheikhs agree: it is permissible to defame and mock Christianity. “Islam Web,” which is owned by the government of Qatar, even issued a fatwa that legitimizes insulting Christianity.
The grandest irony of all is that the “defamation” that Muslims complain about — and that prompts great violence and bloodshed around the world — revolves around things like cartoons and movies, which are made by individuals who represent only themselves. On the other hand, Islam itself, through its holiest and most authoritative texts, denigrates and condemns — in a word, “defames” — all other religions.
It is this issue — Islam’s perceived “divine” right to defame and destroy — that the international community should address.
And the right to freely discuss and criticize Islam’s penchant to defame and destroy is what the international community must protect.