YOU MAY HAVE heard that, on Sunday 3rd May, a shooting took place in Texas. It was reported by The Independent that ‘two gunmen have been shot dead in Texas after attacking an anti-Islamic event exhibiting cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, in what the organiser has called an act of “war on free speech”.’
A “war on free speech’? Really? Let me please put this into context. The event was organised by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), a hate group that has funded anti-Islamic campaigns around America. The event offered a $10,000 prize for the “best” artwork or caricature depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Now, I must make it clear that the shooters didn’t actually kill anyone. An officer was shot in the leg, police then reacted and fired back; killing the shooters. I also must make it clear that I do not think that the act of the shooters were allowed. I strongly disagree with their actions, but this is not what I think we should focus on.
Now there’s two parts to this. The event that the AFDI organised, and their response after with the “war on free speech” are the two points I want to focus on. So what’s wrong with a drawing contest? Nothing. What’s wrong with drawing the Prophet Mohammed? Everything.
It is extremely offensive to draw the Prophet Mohammed, as it is not allowed according to Islam, and they consider that to be extremely offensive as you should not envision him. Not only to draw him, but on top of that to make a competition, and get others to join in, is disgusting. It is gross. If you know that a huge number of people will be offended doing what you do, why do it? After all, you are only actually offending innocent people. What’s wrong with being a Muslim? Nothing is wrong with being a Muslim. So why offend them? There is no legitimate reason to. Hence why it is completely stupid, immoral and unjust to hold an event such as this.
After the event took place, The AFDI described this as an act of “war on free speech”. Excuse me? Free Speech is, of course, extremely important. I fully recognise its importance, being part of a media organisation after all. I truly do think that free speech is important, especially when it comes to holding individuals responsible to others. I’m not going to start going into the speech restriction laws that were put in place in 2001 in America. However, a war on free speech is not what this really is. As the term “war” is being used inaccurately as there are certain definitions and requirements that make a war, which this event does not meet. Free speech is also difficult to define ridgidly, especially when the action is offensive in the first place. This event does not count as an act of war, simply a violent stance against Muslim’s beliefs. Shooting should not have been an option here, yet it is understandable why these people were driven towards what we saw in Texas; especially after years of anti-Muslim actions, not only in America.
Those two shooters firstly do not represent the whole Muslim community. But to make this accusation is unfathomable, it’s like suggesting that all white people represent Christianity, and always drink tea. It’s ridiculous. It was an attack on the individuals who decided that disregarding another religions beliefs was acceptable in twenty-first century society. I understand this is a distressing turn of events, with gun crime in America at an all time high. However when you know that you are holding an event such as this, you should expect a backfire. Excuse the pun.
Remember, in the Bible, where Jesus was mocked by those that did not believe in him. He was also crucified by the Romans. Do we think that it was okay for the Romans to do this? No. So why is it acceptable to mock others for their religious beliefs? In an idealised world, we would all get along and hold pow wows about all the great ideas in the world and share in them together. Unfortunately, we are destined to have a minority, in every sector of life, that wishes ill of others, rather than just accepting. So I call upon people now to not agree with events such as this and use the term “war on free speech” accurately.