I appeared ‘alongside’ Anne-Marie Waters, an ardent Secularist and Islam-critic, on LBC radio discussing the attempted ‘Draw Muhammed’ exhibition in London, organised by a Anne-Marie Waters herself. The event was cancelled by the venue, and she complained that this impinged her right to speech. This is despite the fact she was perfectly happy for UK universities to cancel events organised by Islamic organisations.
I made the point that in the UK, there are many laws against inciting hatred against groups of people defined by race, gender and sexual preference. There is no ‘freedom’ of speech in the UK, only a limited ‘right to speech’ and expression. Furthermore, many Muslim groups and organisations have venues cancel their events due to public (or police and government) pressure, yet there is no outcry about ‘freedom of expression’ for them. Even MDI had one of their events cancelled due to public pressure and ‘advice’ from the police – who were concerned at MDI inviting Tommy Robinson for a public debate, despite the fact that the debate received wide support from the Muslim community.
However, what was made clear on the radio program, is that the simple depiction of the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) by non-Muslims is not the most concerning issue here, what Muslims find the most concerning about the ‘Draw Mohamed Exhibition’. Despite Muslims having a strong theological distaste for any prophet to be depicted, whether Muhammed (saaw), Jesus (saaw) or Moses (saaw), the defamatory way Muhammed (saaw) is attempted to be depicted at the ‘exhibition’ was designed to demonise the Muslim community as a whole. When you have pictures that depict the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) has having a bomb on his turban, this spreads fear and hatred of Muslims – a worrying sign considering that ‘cartoons’ were used likewise to spread hatred and fear against Europe’s other minorities in the past, targeting for example the Jewish community in the 1920s-40s.
The ‘Draw Mohamed’ Exhibition is clearly not about art, but about Islamophobes attempting to expand their ability to openly vilify Muslims, citing vacuous platitudes to ‘free speech’.