Protests against the publication and republication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad have taken place in nations, both Muslim and secular, around the world. So far around thirty people have died in violent demonstrations.
The treasurer of the Islamic Society on campus, Ogtay Huseyni, has spoken to Nouse outlining why these cartoons have caused such fury in the Muslim world and how the Islamic Society plans to deal with the issue. Notably, he also indicates that there is no necessary contradiction between Islam and freedom of expression. A key message of Islam, he says, is that one should discuss matters that one takes issue with, rather than fuel the confrontations which have developed.
It is with reference to what Huseyni calls “anti-Islamic feelings around the world” that he believes the type of reaction witnessed in Islamic communities can be understood.
The cartoons themselves are particularly provocative and offensive to Muslims.
Huseyni believes understanding this provocation explains the reaction we have seen.
Huseyni feels that there are few, if any, insults which are more serious than to demean a prophet, as “Muslims love the prophet more than their family”.
This was partly in response to the accusation that the printing of anti-semitic cartoons in Islamic newspapers seems hypocritical. While not condoning such satire at all, Huseyni felt the cartoons were still the more offensive.
The Islamic Society has around 50 members and aims to provide a support base for Muslims on campus and to foster relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. In light of this the society is holding an Islamic awareness week in the summer term, 2006.