In a disturbing new poll conducted by the BBC, 1 in 4 Muslims in the UK say the Charlie Hebdo terrorists and others who commit violent acts against those who produce and publish images of the Prophet Muhammad are justified.
According to the poll, 24 percent suggested that violence against those who publish images of Muhammad can be justified, while 11 percent felt sympathetic towards people who want to fight against Western interests.
The good news is that a majority of UK Muslims oppose violence against people who publish images depicting the Prophet Muhammad: 68% agreed that such violence was never justifiable.
However, one in five believe that liberal, Western society can never be compatible with Islam, and 78 percent are offended when images of the Prophet Muhammad are published.
The numbers represent a profound divide between between liberal, secular values and many British Muslims.
In related news, the UK’s National Secular Society reports the Muslim Action Forum (MAF), which staged a protest outside Downing Street against Charlie Hebdo in February, has launched a “legal strategy” to stop insults against Muhammad.
The campaign, called “Be Careful With Mohammed,” aims to make insulting Muhammad a criminal offense in the UK.
The group states that they intend “to launch a series of legal challenges in the English Court system” because “depictions of our Holy Prophet peace be upon Him is the worst kind of ‘Hate Crime’ that can be perpetrated on the 3 million Muslims in the UK and 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide.”
It is commendable that the group is using legal, legislative measures in their attempt to prevent the publication of depictions of Muhammad, as opposed to violence and terrorism. However, the desire to criminalize the depiction of Muhammad reflects a profound inability to understand or accept the freedom of speech and expression which is the cornerstone of any civil society.
In the end, the fact that some Muslims want to carve out special legal protections for their holy figure is ridiculous, and indeed, worthy of ridicule. It is difficult for the rational mind to understand the absurd level of passion so many Muslims express over depictions, satirical or otherwise, of Muhammad.
The whole thing would be comical if it were not so deadly.