On September 3, 2018, the World Sufi Forum (WSF), an apex body of Indian Sufi-oriented Muslims, wrote a letter to the UN Secretary, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), European Union (EU) and other international bodies. In this letter, the WSF called for enacting the international laws against disrespecting holy Prophets and sacred personalities. This letter has been written in the wake of the recent failed plan to draw contemptuous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Netherlands (Holland).
In line with the guidelines of UNHRC Resolution 16/18, the WSF urged the UN to speak up against the ill-conceived racist designs to defame, denigrate or disrespect the holy personalities of any faith tradition. It asked the world community to combat negative stereotyping and stigmatization of any faith community and its leaders, discrimination and incitement to violence as per the Resolution 16/18 adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011. “It has now become inevitable to make laws, at international levels, to curb the contemptuous and disrespectful behavior towards the holy Prophets and sacred personalities in future”, it wrote. “The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Union must discourage any future blasphemous act against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which leads to an environment of tension, discord and distress in the Muslim world”, it added.
It is about time the world community curtailed such factors which only help the religious extremists who are on the lookout for such ‘opportunities’ to seek justifications to their acts of violence.
The recently cancelled cartoon contest planned by the anti-Islam Wilders Geer only resulted in the emergence of extremist thoughts and groups. It not only halted the moderate Muslims’ global efforts towards attaining peace, but also strengthened the extremist narratives underfoot in the social media.
While we need more tolerance, respect for cultural and religious diversity and enhanced dialogue at all levels, we need to fight extremism in all forms and manifestations.
In its letter to the UN Secretary, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), European Union (EU) and other international bodies, the WSF stresses that,
· If the objective of global peace is to be achieved, the United Nations and all international bodies are duty-bound to enact clear and manifest laws making blasphemy of holy Prophets and other personages a punishable offence.
· This should not just be confined to formulation of laws but the necessary laws should be translated into action, in letter and spirit.
· Freedom of Expression should be redefined in order to protect the world from clash of civilizations. Any disrespectful or contemptuous behavior against the holy Prophets is cannot be called ‘freedom of expression’ by any legal imagination. Rather, it is violation of fundamental right to profess any religion and love and respect its holy personages.
· If the United Nations, European Union and other international organizations did not address this extremely sensitive issue, nothing would save the world from promoting religious extremism and plunging into another ‘clash of civilizations’.
· The peaceful and the true Prophet-loving Muslims have exercised utmost patience and restraint on a number of occasions when blasphemous, objectionable and immoral material was published against Prophet of Islam so that international peace could stay intact.