Following the recent anti Muslim video 'Innocence of Muslims' against the Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him) there has been much debate surrounding the misuse of the term freedom of speech.
Undoubtedly Charlie Hebdo's publication of the mocking cartoons is a senseless, provocation that can only further increase tensions following the crude YouTube video.
In addition within the same month Newsweek have decided to publish a cover entitled 'Muslim Rage' promoting a story written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali who wrote the story "Muslim Rage and the Last Gasp of Islamic Hate". The cover image and the story were both derogative and overgeneralizing and further added to the anti Muslim negativity that has been so prevalent in the media this month.
Rob Crilley from the Telegraph quite rightly denounced the cover as 'A sickening piece of shock journalism that cheapens a once great magazine". http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/robcrilly/100181431/newsweeks-muslim-rage-a-sickening-piece-of-shock-journalism-that-cheapens-a-once-great-magazine/
I am a firm believer in freedom of speech but frankly this could not be termed as 'freedom of speech. Does freedom of speech give someone the right to harm, mock, insult and degrade another person's beliefs? Does freedom of speech give someone the right to discriminate against another person's religion? This is not freedom of speech this is inciting misrepresentations and could only be termed as propaganda.
The widespread protests and violence that have been aroused due to this negative propaganda against Muslims have become a cause for concern but Muslims need to speak up and defend the Prophet when he has been clearly misrepresented and ridiculed. Violence is not and has never been the answer to provocations and instead it would be better if we take heed of Islamic etiquette and protest peacefully in order to get the point across. By using violence we are only further making things worse and therefore it would be better to adopt a dignified response to undignified provokers.
There have been many people from different religions and cultures who have praised the Prophet after having taking the time out to learn more about him.
Michael H Hart, an American author who wrote "The 100 most influential persons in history" had placed Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) as number one, on the top of the list.
He stated that, "My choice of Muhammad to lead the best of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.
In addition Gandhi had once said that, "I wanted to know the best of one who holds today undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind... I became more than convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the 2nd volume (of the Prophet's biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of the great life." (M.H. Hart 'The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History).
For Muslims the Prophet Muhammad is a much respected messenger of God and therefore continuous mocking and insulting media about him can only be termed provoking.