The UK Government’s Islamophobia advisor has suggested that showing images of Muhammad should be made as socially unacceptable as saying the n-word.
Batley Grammar School in Yorkshire in the north of England faced protests this week from Muslim parents, after one teacher dared to show images of Muhammad during class. The school, which was about to break up for the Easter holidays, had had to switch to remote-learning as a result of the protests. The headteacher “unequivocally apologised” for the actions of the teacher in question, and suspended him, despite the fact that he had received a number of serious death threats from angry Muslims.
However, rather than criticising the actions of the protestors for attacking the free speech of the teacher, Imam Qari Asim MBE, chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB), and the Government’s adviser on Islamophobia, called for a “change in social attitudes” as a result of the protests, and suggested that sharing images of Muhammad should be as socially unacceptable as saying the n-word:
I guess when we talk of a potential curb or limitation on free speech, I think that sets alarm bells ringing, leaving some people [wrongly] thinking that Muslims are asking for restrictions on free speech. But I think what we should try and emphasise is that there’s already a phenomenon in place in that actually there are boundaries to free speech. Like, for instance, people cannot use the ‘n-word’ – and quite rightly so – because this is derogatory and causes deep pain and hurt. I’m not in favour of restriction and curbing or free speech, but I think we already have boundaries based on social norms.
Asim, despite his relations to the government, also is a trustee for the hardcore leftist organisation, Hope not Hate, who regularly engage in attacks on anyone on the right of politics, describing organisations such as Turning Point as being “extreme.”
Adrian Hilton, a lecturer in political theology, described the proposals from Asim as “patent nonsense,” highlighting that sects of Islam have different interpretations of the depictions of Muhammad. “Shia Muslims have long depicted Muhammad in art, and shouldn’t be subject to a myopic Sunni school of Sharia,” Hilton argued.
Patent nonsense: the latter is derogatory, settled racism; the former is contested theology. Islam is not uniform: Shia Muslims have long depicted Mohammed in art, and shouldn't be subject to a myopic Sunni school of sharia. A Govt. Islamophobia advisory panel needs to be broad. https://t.co/2E8Rh6g5Q8
— Adrian Hilton (@Adrian_Hilton) March 26, 2021
Robert Jenrick MP, the Communities Secretary, in contrast, said that teachers should absolutely be allowed to “appropriately show images of the prophet” in class, and slammed the “deeply unsettling scenes” taking place outside the school. “In a free society we want religions to be taught to children and for children to be able to question and query them,” he told the BBC. “We must see teachers protected and no-one should be feeling intimidated or threatened as they go into school.”
Last October, Samuel Paty, a French teacher, was beheaded on the streets of Paris by a Muslim angry that he had shown students cartoons of Muhammad in class, with the recent protests drawing obvious comparisons.