Getting offended on God’s behalf
The alarm went off on Monday morning, the radio came on and all I heard was, “It’s been described as the most serious insult to Islam ever! People have been killed, and protests are mounting.”
I thought ‘What’s happened? Has Satanic Verses been turned into a cartoon?’ I switched the TV on and heard people talking about a film.
I had to rush and get on the tube, as I walked into the carriage everyone was reading a newspaper with this same story on the front, I heard one man say to his friend, “They’re offended again”, his friend replied, “What’s new?”
I watched the film, and it’s the most serious insult to film making ever. It is a badly made, amateur pantomime of a film. Clearly a joke in itself. But what is even more outrageous – is the reaction to it.
My mum is religious. Very religious, fanatical about her religion. She’s done Hajj 12 times, prays all day and fasts even when it’s not Ramazan. If she saw the film she wouldn’t like it, but would she go and shoot four people because of it? No way. Because she is a rational, open-minded human being, and she’s so religious she doesn’t watch films, at least ones which don’t include Omar Sharif.
God, whichever God you believe in, is all knowing, all forgiving, and all loving. God has seen it all, because he made it all. He made the blasphemers. God can’t be attacked. So if you’re offended on his behalf, you don’t actually have enough faith in him.
It is fashionable to be offended, and predictable for certain people to be offended at anything from cartoons to films, jokes, books … what next? Food, hair colour?
Every idea, every belief has to be challenged because that’s how the rational mind works. There has to be questioning and debate, and if your religion is strong enough, it will withstand that.
Blasphemy is important. If blasphemy laws ruled the world we’d still be living in caves, and we’d never had made any progress – some people still haven’t. Blasphemy laws are the armour of the insecure. If you are unable to laugh at yourself as a religion or a culture, that culture is suffering from low self-esteem, and devolution. Blasphemy doesn’t just apply to religion, but economically and socially as well.
Now, because of the way certain Muslims react to things that offend them, artists, writers, comedians, film makers all over the world are slowly being silenced because they are scared to say what they think; in case they end up dead. The East is taking away the West’s democracy. I don’t like the film, it is offensive and insulting, although the comments underneath it on YouTube are far more offensive, but if you truly believe in democracy you have to defend the right for it to be made.
It is always a minority that are offended, and they often react with irrational violence, some of them don’t even know what they’re reacting to; violence is all they know. It gives us all a bad name. And if they don’t stop, I’ll have to continue to get randomly searched at airports, being felt up by some strange woman, and not be able to take more than 100ml of moisturizer through customs.
I live in England. It is a democracy, not just because of the way we vote, but because of the way we think. A good working democracy treats minorities well, and has a view of religion that is accepting. Britain is a melting pot of many religions and cultures, which is what makes it so great.
The Muslim world needs to be open minded about religion; it is ridiculous, insulting in itself and anti-Islamic to call someone an infidel just because they don’t agree with what you believe.
Murdering someone, anyone, is never justified but even more outrageous when over a flimsy book or a badly made film.
There is a war between the East and the West, the moderate and the extreme, the religious and the non-religious, the repressed and the free, the open minded and the closed minded. Ultimately the open minded will win. Those are the people, who are accepting and tolerant to other people’s beliefs and opinions which is the fundamental basis of all religion and those are the right thinking, rational people you’d want to live next door to.
Don’t kill me for writing this column; it’s just an idea.
The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.