Anti-Blashpemy laws a step in the wrong direction
A group of Muslim scholars, including Hamza Yusuf who is arguably the most popular scholar in North America, have issued the following call:
"We call upon the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as well
as Muslim countries and governments and the international community to
press the United Nations to issue a declaration criminalizing any insult to
Muhammad, Jesus or Moses or to any other revered prophetic figure."
This would be bad enough, if it were not prefaced by a description of the cartoon episode which is so distorted as to be nearly surreal:
"The events in Denmark concerning the Messenger of God represent an
entirely unacceptable crime of aggression that has violated the highest
sanctities of the Muslim people.
Huh? Drawing a cartoon is an act of aggression? Given this context, it is clear that the scholars would like to outlaw pretty much any discussion of Muhammad, Jesus or Moses, etc that does not run along the lines of "Gee, wasn't x prophet a great guy?" Can we say Barney redux?
Aside from the fact that civil society depends upon people having the freedom to believe and say whatever they think (just as people who disagree with them also have the freedom to state their disagreement), there is the very sticky problem of what constitutes an insult.
I remember well the case of Pakistani professor a couple of years ago. He said in class one day that the Prophet's marriage to Khadija was not Islamic. This is not an unreasonable statement, as Muhammad did not start receiving revelations until some 15 years after his marriage to Khadija, so it was, in practical terms, impossible for their marriage to have been Islamic. Some of his students were terribly offended, turned him in to the police for blasphemy, and he was sentenced to prison. But those who had gotten him sent to prison were not satisfied, one of them committed a crime in order to get imprisoned in the same jail as the professor, and once there, killed him.
For making a statement that is clearly a matter of fact!
Clearly, this call must be opposed strenuously. And if the OIC does call upon the UN to enact blasphemy laws, we must oppose any UN action on the matter as well.