Clareification editor out of hiding
Varsity, the Cambridge student newspaper, reports that the guest editor responsible for last week’s “Crucification” edition is back in Cambridge.
The magazine in question included “critiques of various religious passages and offered editorial opinion on the Koran and the Christian Gospels amongst other religious issues.” It was the inclusion of a Motoon along with a caption suggesting Mohammed was a “violent paedophile” which prompted reaction among Cambridge’s Muslim leaders.
Hicham Kwieder, chairman on the Mosque Committee of the Abu Bakr Siddiq Islamic Centre, wrote the the college expressing “sorrow and anger” at the material which “deliberately insults the honour of the Blessed Prophet Mohammed”. The Islamic Centre also issued a press release:
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful
The Cambridge Muslim Welfare Society, the controlling authority of the Cambridge Mosque, has made the following statement on behalf of the Mosque Committee and congregation:
With sorrow and anger the Mosque notes the publication, in the student newsletter Clareification, of material which deliberately insults the honour of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad (s.w.s.). Mindful of its duty before Almighty Allah and before humanity to defend the honour and good name of the Final Prophet, the Mosque condemns this provocation in the strongest terms.
We note with satisfaction the statement by Clare College in condemnation of the students’ actions. We accept that the College and University in no way bear responsibility for this publication and the views which it contains.
We hope and trust that the College’s view of the matter will be reflected in a statement from the students concerned, and that the students will offer a full and unconditional apology for their irresponsible action.
The University’s record of freedom of expression is a matter of record and of pride. However it is clear that incitement to religious and ethnic hatred is at all times immoral, and that its consequences for harmony between communities and nations can be grave. It is particularly important that the boundary between fair comment and hate speech be respected and understood at the present time, when misunderstanding and sometimes hatred directed against ethnic minorities of Muslim faith living in the West is on the rise, a process often exploited by far-right and racist groups whose political and social vision is abhorrent to all decent people.
As David T at Harry’s Place notes, Kwieder is guilty of “transparent and self-serving sleight of hand” here when he conflates insulting a dead religious leader with “incitement to religious and ethnic hatred”. We would also note the veiled threat behind the comment that “consequences for harmony between communities and nations can be grave”.
Kwieder is due no apology, and let’s hope that he doesn’t get one. He is clearly upset that his Medieval hero has been “insulted” – but no figure, historical or mythical, can be afforded special protection from criticism. The fact is, using Islam’s core texts as evidence, a reasonable case can be made for calling Mohammed a “violent paedophile”. If someone disagrees with that assessment, they should present evidence to the contrary. What they cannot do is demand apologies and punishments, or threaten “grave consequences” to anyone who dares suggest such a thing. Indeed, if that’s all they can do, it would indicate that their case for the defence is a rather weak one.
The guest editor may still face disciplinary proceedings.