CAIRO – 3 September 2020: Several Islamic institutions in Egypt strongly criticized a new blasphemous act by French Magazine “Charlie Hebdo”when it republished insulting cartoons against the Prophet Muhammad.
On Wednesday, the sarcastic magazine republished a group of blasphemous cartoons against Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing be upon him). It is not the first time that the magazine published blasphemous cartoons “as a kind of press freedom” and sparked anger of Muslims worldwide. In January 2015, militant Islamists attacked the magazine and killed 17 people over three days. Few days later, a march participated by many world leaders was organized under slogan “Je suis Charlie” in solidarity with the attack victims. Fifteen people were charged with the attacks; on Wednesday, 11 defendants were brought to a courtroom after five months of suspension of the trail due to the coronavirus pandemic, BBC reported.
Grand Imam of Egypt’s highest Islamic Sunni institute of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb said insulting the Prophet Muhammed is an explicit call for hatred and violence.
“Our Prophet (pbuh) is dearer to us than ourselves. So, insulting him is not freedom of opinion, but an explicit call for hatred and violence, and a breakdown of all human and civilized values. Besides, justifying such insult under the pretext of protecting freedom of expression is a misunderstanding of the difference between the human right to freedom and the crime against humanity under the plea of protecting freedoms,” he posted on his official Facebook page.
The Islamophobia Monitoring Observatory at Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta on Wednesday condemned the republication of the cartoons, saying “the re-publication of such cartoons that insult Islam and Muslims in the western press represents a provocative step to Muslims’ feelings around the globe, nurtures a culture of hatred and violence, and provides a pretext for practicing terrorism against Muslims and stigmatizing them with terrorism and extremism.”
The observatory added in its statement that the weekly magazine published insulting cartoons against Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad in 2006, 2011 and 2015 led to an increase in violence and gave terrorist groups an excuse to attack the newspaper's building in 2015.
The Observatory warned of the danger of racist practices in the name of freedom saying “freedom is not absolute.” It calls on international parliaments and governments to urgently pass laws criminalizing abuse to religious symbols and sanctities.
During his visit to Lebanon, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that he is not in a position to judge on the magazine’s cartoons as France has freedom of expression, adding that the French people have to avoid “dialogue of hate,” Reuters reported.
In his speech about the Islamophobia on June 2, 2019, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb said western media promoted for the wrong image about Islam through the term “Islamophobia,” despite the Islamic clergymen and scholars’ efforts to clarify and rectify this misconception.
“Up to this moment, we never heard about Christianity-phobia, Judaism-phobia, Buddhism-phobia or Hinduism-phobia. I believe that there is no a newspaper or a channel or a TV program in the West or in the East dare speak about phobia of any other religion or belief,” al-Tayeb said.
Islam rejects violence among people of any religion, he added, saying “We do not hold the Christian religion, nor Christ [peace be upon him] nor Moses [peace be upon him] a single atom of responsibility for the terrible massacres of Muslims by believers of other religions. We do not label a religion as terrorism, violence and brutality. We remain deeply aware of the vast difference between religions and their teachings, and between the traders of religions,” he continued.