In Saudi Arabia, a blogger named Raif Badawi, created a website known as “Free Saudi Liberals”. He was charged with violating the nation’s cyber crime law. He has been in prison since June of 2012 for allegedly insulting Islam through the website. Court documents revealed evidence against Badawi and included a post on the website that asked, “Is God unjust?” and a post that asked, “Why is the Saudi’s Grand Mufti blind?” He was found guilty last week and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.
This is far from an isolated case. Last year in Egypt, Makarem Diab, a Coptic Christian was sentenced to six years in prison for “insulting the prophet” Muhammad. He had been involved in a discussion with a Muslim acquaintance who, in an attempt to mock Diab’s Christian beliefs, had insisted that Jesus was a serial fornicator. Diab countered the Muslim’s baseless claim by asserting that Muhammad had more than four wives. Diab was prosecuted because his claim regarding Muhammad cast the prophet in an unfavorable light.
The Hadith records many instances where critics of Muhammad or Islam were put to death, and that tradition continues today. The Qur’an justifies Muhammad’s behavior and says those who “malign Allah and His messenger” are cursed and should be slain (Sura 6:93, Sura 33:57, Sura 33:61).
Slander for westerners is typically defined as a malicious, false and defamatory statement or report. However in Islam slander is defined as saying “anything concerning a person [a Muslim] that he would dislike.” In the West a statement must be false to be slander, but under Islam, truth is irrelevant. A statement could be considered slanderous if a Muslim was insulted by it regardless of whether or not it was true.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the world’s largest Islamic organization with 56 member states and the Palestinian Authority, is the second largest intergovernmental agency behind the United Nations. The Islamic Summit, which is composed of Kings and Heads of States, is the supreme authority of the organization. For the past 13 years, the OIC has attempted to use the United Nations to force western nations to enact laws to criminalize the “defamation of religions.”
In April of 2013, in the United Kingdom, up to 25,000 Muslims gathered to call on the government to introduce legislation to bar people from insulting Islam. Often western governments and institutions operate under Islamic blasphemy guidelines voluntarily. For instance, Australian National University has banned satire of Islam for fear of inciting violence.
The European Parliament however passed two resolutions that stand in contrast to the attempts by the OIC. The first resolution focused on the freedom of the press, and the second centered on religious freedom. It opposed, “any attempt to criminalize freedom of speech in relation to religious issues, such as blasphemy laws.”
It is important that Western nations do not allow the system of Islam to curtail their freedom of speech. Thank God that the European Parliament has passed a resolution to stop the criminalization of free speech.
Many Muslims, because they are unable to question the teachings of their religion, have never been free to examine and decide if the teachings of Islam are true. Pray that freedom will continue for Western scholars to examine and expose the teachings, and that Muslims around the world will be able to gain access and decide for themselves the truth about the Islamic system.