Don’t assume because I respect your freedoms I am not offended
Posted 3 Nov 2016 by Walaa Idris
Throughout the world today, there are more moderate Muslims than not, and we have a duty to reflect that fact.
What many people are not alluding to, considering or even talking about is how the Prophet Mohamed cartoons were actually very offensive to some Muslims. And, just as the cartoonists have the liberty to offend; these Muslims are equally entitled to be offended by those cartoons.
However, offending and being offended does not give anyone, regardless of the extent of that offence, the right to kill and terrorise. Not even in the name of Allah, and that’s what Islam, the religion of peace and forgiveness daily teaches its followers.
I spent all of last week watching in horror as events unfolded in Paris with one question running through my head. “Why does the West want me (a moderate, peaceful and fully integrated Muslim) to say I am not offended by the Prophet Mohamed’s cartoons when I was deeply insulted by them?”
The only explanations I could come up with were either the West truly has no idea how most Muslims feel about religion, or they want justification at any cost and safety in numbers – the more Muslims say it’s OK then it must be OK.
And for the record, Islam equally respects all Abrahamic religions, and proper Muslims are by the same token offended by any disrespect shown to any of the Holy Prophets – Abraham, Jesus, Moses, Joseph, David….
However, regardless of the insult, it is never okay, nor is it acceptable to terrorise and murder people for having an opinion. Particularly as Islam teaches Muslims to be tolerant of others’ shortcomings, and encourages them to be forbearing with those who misunderstand them.
As a Muslim who voluntarily moved to Britain, I grew to love all things British. Upon my arrival on these shores, I made it my duty to learn, experience and to assimilate myself and my family. I wanted us to fit in, and succeed. My girls, who attended Church of England schools; annually participated in Christmas nativities, Easter events, and at times even sang in the school choir. None of that took away from our values, but gave us first-hand experience of the culture of the society we willingly adopted. That is why it is my profound belief that all non-Brits who freely come over have a duty to themselves and their chosen home to embrace and understand their new environment. Learn the language, absorb the culture and become an asset – not the other way round. By so doing, they will enrich themselves and their communities, and coexist in harmony.
It is also imperative to remember the same freedoms that allowed the cartoonists to offend Muslims allow Muslims to build mosques, worship freely and openly and dress differently. To suppress the freedoms of artists, writers or broadcasters will also quell the freedoms of those who want to practice a different religion or open faith schools. Liberty is a two-way street; that is why my question lingered for the best part of a week.
Out of respect to those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks and their families, I did not write this blog until now, after the Solidarity March and the victims’ burials.
In closing, as a person I detest terrorism particularly terrorism carried out in the name of my religion. This post is dedicated to the victims of the Paris attacks with my deepest and sincerest condolences to their families and loved ones. I pray for their souls to rest in peace, for tolerance and understanding between our diverse communities, and for learning to accept each others’ differences.l
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