A British MP has defended the honour of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in an impassioned speech in Parliament, highlighting the emotional stress and harm caused to the Muslims across the world by the offensive cartoons and caricatures repeatedly published in Europe.
Naz Shah, an MP for the opposition Labour party, addressed the House of Commons this week, regarding a proposed law that aims to criminalise vandalism of statues and mitigate the emotional harm caused by destruction of such icons.
If passed, the law will introduce a jail term of up to 10 years for anyone found guilty of attacking and vandalising statues, which Shah described in the Commons speech as “a significantly higher penalty for attacking a statue”.
She asked why would a person be given a much more significant penalty for attacking a stone or iron statue compared to if they were to damage a stone wall or an iron gate, especially because in their physical form they’re identical.
Shah drew comparisons between the British people’s attachment to figures such as Winston Churchill and Oliver Cromwell and Muslims’ love for their Prophet (PBUH). Shah highlighted the issues faced by Muslims in the UK and across the world when it came to the defamation of what they hold dear.
“As a Muslim, for me and millions of Muslims across this country and the quarter of the world’s population that is Muslim too, with each day and each breath, there is not a single thing in the world that we commemorate and honour more than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).”
“When bigots and racist defame, slander or abuse our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him), just like some people do to the likes of Churchill, the emotional harm caused upon our hearts is unbearable,” the lawmaker stressed.
Because for 2 billion Muslims, he is the leader we commemorate in our hearts, honour in our lives and forms the basis of our identity and our very existence,” Shah said. “Just as this new law aims to protect historical figures of the UK, the same protection should be extended to figures and individuals that hold importance for other communities, she stressed.
Acknowledging the importance and symbolism of monuments in UK history, she defended the right to debate and disagree about the significance of any historical figure, but argued that the defamation of any historical monument was wrong and deeply divisive.
“To those who say it’s just a cartoon, I won’t say it’s only a statue because I understand the strength of the British feeling when it comes to our history, our culture and our identity. It’s not just a cartoon and they’re not just statues. They represent, symbolise, and mean so much more to us as human beings.”
She also quoted author and playwright George Bernard Shaw, who said of the Prophet Muhammad: “He was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He preached a religion, founded a state, laid down a moral code, initiated numerous social and political reforms, established a powerful and dynamic society to practice his teachings and completely revolutionised the worlds of human thought and behaviour for all times to come.”