Muslim Brotherhood website demands that West criminalize ‘assaults’ on Islam

Statement condemns violence against US interests, says free speech should not extend to acts of ‘barbaric aggression’ that humiliate all Muslims

Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, September 11, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Abu Zaid)
Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the US Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, September 11, 2012 (photo credit: AP/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

Without the “criminalization of assaults on the sanctities of all heavenly religions,” the Muslim Brotherhood warned on Thursday, insults to Islam “will continue to cause devout Muslims across the world to suspect and even loathe the West, especially the USA.”

The remarks were part of a statement posted on the English-language website of the Brotherhood in response to a trailer for a new film, which the Egyptian ruling party says is insulting to Islam.

Since the publication of the trailer earlier this week, violent anti-American riots have been raging at US diplomatic missions throughout the Middle East. In Benghazi, Libya, the American ambassador and three others were killed in a violent takeover of the consulate, and in Cairo and Sanaa, enraged mobs converged on the US embassies.

According to the statement, “one and a half billion Muslims [were] subjected to humiliation and abuse in the person of their leader, Mohammed, the Messenger of God, the Prophet of Islam,” due to the film.

The statement cited bigotry and hatred as motives for “repeated abuse,” and denounced as “ignorant” those who permit the abuse — a reference to Western authorities. Islam guarantees all people freedom of belief and freedom of opinion and expression, the statement said, but these freedoms should not extend to attacks on Islam.

“They are crimes and assaults against Muslim sanctities and must not be tolerated by the countries where they are produced or launched.”

The statement cited restrictions on Holocaust denial as an example of legislation that prohibits offensive speech, and suggested that laws should be passed that criminalize insults to Islam. Although legislation against Holocaust denial is in place in Europe, the US does not have similar laws.

According to the statement, Western condemnation of the film would not have been issued were it not for the riots. “[The West] never made a move regarding the abuse [film] until after the strong reaction seen across the Muslim world,” the statement said.

The Muslim Brotherhood condemned the “bloodshed and violent response” of recent days, but asserted that Muslim peoples and governments had the right to peacefully and legally condemn “this new violation and heinous attack” — a reference to the film — and “to take appropriate action to deter repeats of such acts of barbaric aggression.”

“Those who insult the sanctities wish to poison budding relations between the peoples, to disrupt the efforts to build bridges between civilizations, and to sow discord between the peoples,” the statement said.

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