Siddiqui urges Muslims to embrace freedom of speech

From the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain

Commenting on the over-reaction of Muslims over the anti-Islamic cartoons published by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament and Director of the Muslim Institute, London, has said Muslims are now having to pay the price of a knowledge-deficit that exists in all Muslim societies.

He asked them to pursue a culture of excellence and come out as a confident people who embrace ‘freedom of speech’. This, he feels, will help them change their fortunes. In their hey-days Muslims pursued diversity of thought and freedom of speech which inspired the Renaissance in Europe. It is pity that today’s Muslims show such a negative attitude towards ‘freedom of speech’. Without realising that by embracing ‘freedom of speech’ they have nothing to lose except their isolation. They do not appear to realise what they are missing in life as a result. All Muslim societies today are oppressive. They can only liberate themselves from oppression and obscurantism through debate and dialogue and becoming part of civil societies. ‘Join the club and engage with the civil society in defining the rules of the game. Staying outside and throwing stones until the rules are changed is not the option’, he said.

Dr Siddiqui called the cartoons abusive and designed to create hatred against Muslims. He said that, Muslims were right to express their abhorrence over their publication because of Europe’s history of turning on its minorities. It was through such cartoons, in Nazi Germany during the 1930’s, a climate of hate against the Jews was created leading up to the Holocaust in which over six million Jews and others died. Dr Siddiqui said that these cartoons also provided oxygen to extremist groups on both sides. Fascist groups within the Muslim community, who were marginalized after 7/7, have found a cause on which to make a come back.

The West should learn to respect the sensitivity of others. This is the logic of living in a globalised world. Muslims on the other hand should begin an open debate about the dangers of salafism and jihadism spreading within their midst.

‘Salafism and jihadism, originating from Saudi Arabia, was globalised and militarised in Afghanistan, in the wake of the Soviet invasion of the country, is now engulfing Muslim societies. When the Saudis become involved with any Islamic project I get worried. With salafist taking lead over the anti-Islamic cartoons we need to make sure we are not moving towards Huntington’s prophecy of ‘Clash of Civilisation’, fulfilling neocons dream of ‘full spectrum dominance’.

It is also noteworthy that while Muslims highlight double-standards of other societies, they have never protested against the destruction of Prophet Muhammed’s history in Saudi Arabia which has gone on during the last several decades.