Let Us All Work Together to Bring a Peaceful Resolution

Memo by the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE) to European public opinion concerning the Cartoons defaming the Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him

“Let us all work together to bring a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Muslims all over the world, and all those who believe in the value of respect for religions and all things held sacred, received with revulsion, and condemnation, the defamatory pictures published by a Danish newspaper, and recently bandied by a number of newspapers around Europe.  The context, in which these defamatory pictures were published, was distinguished by a wave of Islamophobia propounded in Denmark in recent years by certain political sectors. It had been possible to contain the situation from escalating into a confrontation had the authorities in Denmark dealt with the matter with openness and understanding, and did not ignore the grave insult to a billion and half Muslims in the world. What is saddening is that this failure to resolve the problem at the level of Denmark, has led to its escalation, taking on international dimensions today, involving many other countries where the condemned pictures have been republished.

It is very important that our fellow citizens in Europe understand the facts about the Muslims’ position and the outrage which they have felt by the publication of the defamatory pictures;                                                       

􀂾 Love of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and respect for his person is one of the unshakeable beliefs of Muslims. Muslims abstain from depicting the Prophet, as well as all the Messengers, peace be upon them. This is done out of respect for them and for preserving their status as venerable religious figures. In the same way, Muslims show their objection to any defamation of Jesus, peace be upon him, and his chaste mother.

􀂾 The said pictures are no ordinary ones, but carry clear insult and greatly disparage the person of the noble Messenger; a matter that is a clear assault on the feelings of Muslims who worship God Almighty through the love of His messenger. Therefore, it is strange to hear from those defending the publication of the pictures that they did not intend to insult the person of the Messenger, peace be upon him, rather all that they did was in the spirit ofpreserving freedom of expression.    

􀂾 It is well known that every picture, especially a caricature, carries a message, so what is the message of all these pictures? All the drawings without exception carry a message of extreme insult and denigration. In them is a clear accusation; by tying Islam to terrorism, accusing Islam of oppressing women, and other negative connotations, which is what increased Muslims’ objections to these insulting pictures.        

􀂾 The media message carried by these shameful pictures represents a line that encourages the spread of hatred among people, and among members of one society; in which we wish for people to co-exist, despite the differences in their beliefs, in the haven of mutual respect and mutual recognition. In a world ripped apart by conflict and dispute, there is a great need today for and the exercise of responsibility.

It is important to remember that Muslims respect the freedom of expression, and are not molested by it. Their religion had affirmed the freedom of belief for every person, and prohibited coercion in this respect. The statement in the Quran is clear in this regard, Allah, the Almighty says: “Say the truth from your Lord, he who wishes may choose to believe, and he who wishes may choose to disbelieve” – Al-Kahf 29 – The Almighty says: “There is no compulsion in religion…” – Al-Baqara 256. Therefore, to say that the dispute with Muslims in this issue is based on the West protecting the freedom of expression and the Muslims rejecting it, is not true. What must be made clear is that freedom of expression, as has been explained by many who objected to these pictures, does not mean at all the freedom to insult others. There is a huge difference between the freedom of thought, criticism and expression of opinion, and ridicule, insult, andhostility in expression.

The current crisis invites us today to think seriously about agreeing a set of general guidelines that guarantee freedom of expression, but at the same time protect religious objects and preserve these from mockery and desecration, in order to preserve the elements of co-existence, peace and cooperation between nations, peoples, and religions, and strengthen the pillars of positive relations and constructive dialogue between civilisations.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe declares its support, and lends its weight to the provision of a general resolution by the United Nations that asserts the respect for religions and beliefs in the world.

The Muslims in Europe, while saddened by the attitudes of those who wish to fan the flames of this crisis with their statements and postures in support of the newspapers publishing the pictures, also recognise the stance of many political leaders in the world, as well as the different religious institutions, and all the thinkers and media professionals, who expressed their objection to the pictures and the negative message of aggression against the feelings of the Muslims; this is the quality of fairness which must be thanked in those who expressed it.

The Muslims in Europe have been at the receiving end of grave abuse in this issue, but today they wish for collective effort from all concerned to resolve this crisis, in a measured way that will bringing calm and preventing escalation, while serving the spirit of cooperation and peace, which must always be the basis of relations between nations and peoples.

The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe in representing wide sections of Muslims across Europe deplores the attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies, and calls for all threats and wrongdoing to cease. It also asks that the Danish government help in ending the crisis by arriving at an acceptable formula, in which Muslims’ feelings are recognised.

The Federation out of its sense of duty, and for the sake of peaceful coexistence, and social harmony, declares its willingness to play a positive role that could help achieve accord and reconciliation.

The Muslims in Europe working to achieve positive integration in their European societies, through good citizenship, emphasise that what helps in achieving that, is the feeling of Muslims that dealings with them are within the frame of justice, fairness, and equality; this will enhance and deepen their belonging to their European societies.”

Executive Committee, FIOE
Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe
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