By Arshi Saleem Hashmi, SAVE’s Chapter Leader in Pakistan
|Arshi Saleem Hashmi|
|Protesters in Tahrir Square carry a poster of Osama Bin Laden, (c) Reuters|
In Pakistan, the film has generated interesting debates and TV channels are showing many programs where the discourse is whether the hate speech in Muslim countries target or ridicule the sacred personalities of other faiths or they focus more on the policies and politics of the western countries who happened to be belonging to Christian faith. So the dichotomy here is Muslim antagonism is due to the policies of the West particularly the US while the views that have expressed in film is focused on the most sacred Personality in Islam. A positive sign in Pakistan mainstream media is to initiate debate on this issue and majority of the people though emotionally hurt, are listening to these discussions. Any violent expression would still be a minority act just like the making of the film is a minority expression in the US. The gist of the debate is that western freedom of expression is not universal and should not be considered as a universal definition. The point is also being raised that despite all the hate speech and violent expressions against western policies, no attempts has ever been done to make a film on ridiculing Jesus Christ (PBUH) or Moses (PBUH, the West should also consider the way freedom of expression is defined in Muslim traditions.
Majority of Pakistanis believe in respect for all the Prophets in Abrahamic religions and they do not support violence but just like anti-Islam minority views in the US and the West, minority views in the Muslim world will continue to react violently as they would interpret it as an attempt approved by the US in order to provoke extremism. The life of our holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the great example where in his lifetime he ignored harshest critics who tried to humiliate him, ridiculed his message and tried to hurt him physically. We should learn from our beloved prophet, we can raise voice against this act, we can protest with the US officially. Violence is not what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us.