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Question of the Day
We are not instigating violence and we reserve the right to object to the defaming movie
Jytte Klausen insinuates that the Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, was the instigator of the violent rioting that has engulfed the Middle East, including Egypt, over the past few days. This is a rather odd reading of an episode that has occupied our minds with concern since we became aware of the existence of a film depicting the Prophet in the vilest terms imaginable. These sorts of blatant insults towards the Prophet cannot be taken lightly by any Muslim, and we reserve the right to object to, and peacefully protest, such attempts at offending the deeply-held sensibilities of over a billion people around the world.
There is no doubt that the religious establishment in Egypt has been facing serious institutional challenges in the current transitional period. However,Klausen’s depiction of the religious scene in Egypt betrays a serious misunderstanding the current state of both Egyptian politics and Muslim authority. For his part, Dr Gomaa has been a staunch opponent of all sorts of violence, and has repeatedly condemned efforts to disturb the peaceful, harmonious nature of Egyptian society. Furthermore, he has a recognized track record of working with people of all faiths in order to foster respect and understanding. Indeed, in the Danish cartoons affair, was at the forefront in calling for dialogue between Islam and the West, so as to calm tensions and create forums interested in participating in a respectful give-and-take of opinions and concerns. More recently, the Mufti has gone on record to condemn the violence in Libya, including the destruction of shrines and mosques dear to Muslims all over the world.
Indeed, Dr Gomaa’s goal is to cultivate relationships with others so that we may, as the Qur’an says, “understand one another.” It is precisely insensitive and unrestrained films like these which contribute to the escalation of tensions and inflame religious sentiment and sectarianism. Rather than engage in baseless rhetoric seeking to point the finger at figures who have spent their careers seeking to achieve interfaith and inter-civilizational understanding, we would be much better served by being proactive in strengthening these personalities and institutions who are genuinely interested in creating a better world for all. It is this sort of cooperation that is sorely needed to confront the crises that seem to arise far too often these days.