The Petition of residents of the United Kingdom
1) We strongly condemn the release of the anti-Islamic film ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which has been screened in the US, and excerpts of which have been allowed to circulate online. The film denigrates the faith of Islam, the character of the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon Him), as well as His noble companions, in the most defamatory and distasteful manner. We further condemn the publication of the derogatory cartoons of the Prophet in the French media on Wednesday 19th September, which came as an added insult.
2) Muslims all over the world share a deep and passionate love of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and any insult directed against His noble character is regarded as highly offensive and totally unacceptable. The emotional responses of anger and resentment witnessed worldwide are nothing more than a result of a direct provocation and an incitement to hatred against Muslims.
3) It is by no coincidence that the release of this film comes at a time when a hostile campaign against Islam and Muslims is being conducted under the guise of the War on Terror. The Islamic views regarding women, hijab, segregation, circumcision, homosexuality, halal meat, treatment of minorities, the penal system, and the political system have all come under attack by journalists, politicians and academics. Viewed within this context, Muslims will interpret the release of the film as part of this wider campaign rather than as an isolated incident, which accounts for the volatile nature of the public response in the Muslim World.
4) Muslims have a duty to adhere to Islamic law at all times which prohibits any act of violence directed against civilians or foreign diplomats. We are therefore committed to protest in a peaceful and lawful manner and to respond intellectually to any such provocation.
5) Muslims have had to endure repeated insults against the character of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) in previous years such as the publication of The Satanic Verses, The Jewel of Medina and the Danish cartoons. It is unbecoming of a civilised society that an open license be granted to wantonly insult and demean others on the basis of their race, creed or religion whilst expecting the victims to be ‘tolerant’ of such abuse. This ‘right to insult’ creates nothing more than intolerance, disharmony and division within society.
6) The idea of freedom of expression is actually a myth as every society imposes limits on speech that they view as harmful or disagreeable. In the UK there are laws relating to racial abuse, holocaust denial, incitement, glorification of terrorism and libel. This selective censorship of views based on political expediency actually undermines any claim the UK has to the ideal of free speech. Furthermore a double standard is often observed whereby freedom of speech is afforded to some and not to others. The muted response of politicians to the release of ‘Innocence of Muslims’ when contrasted with the recent criminal conviction of the teenager Azhar Ahmed in Yorkshire for making offensive remarks on Facebook is a case in point.
7) We stand united with Muslims around the world, as well as members of other religious groups who have also suffered from derogatory insults to their faith. We will continue to defend the honour of our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon Him) and convey His rightful status to the wider society.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the UK government to conduct a debate in Parliament for the creation of a law affording protection to the Muslim community, the religion of Islam and its practices, the key personalities in Islam including Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) and all of the Prophets of God Almighty as recognised in all three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The law should provide the Muslim community, the religion of Islam and its practices, the key personalities in Islam including Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) and all of the Prophets of God Almighty as recognised in all three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Christianity and Judaism protection from slander, ridicule and all such attacks designed to demean and offend.
Whilst these are general headings, it is sought that the UK goverment will create a working group which would include representation from key Muslim religious groups and leaders to examine the issues in detail and to ensure that any introduced law is comprehensive and all encompassing and which factors in the generality of Islamaphobia as a wider concern.
We also emphasise the importance of responding to issues raised in this petition as a matter of priority.