20th May 2005
Irshad Manji asks 'even if the Koran was mistreated, are violent riots, chants of "Death to America", and vows of jihad a justified response.'
It is somewhat disingenous of Manji to overlook the fact that the riots took place within a context of repeated US disregard for international law, its unjustified aggression against Iraq, overt support for the land-grab policies of Ariel Sharon in the West Bank and the criminal abuse of Muslim detainees in Guantanamo Bay. A report about the desecration of the Qur'an by US soldiers in these circumstances was always bound to lead to more than just widespread anger.
We agree that 'challenging a group's deeply held religious convictions' should not be regarded as undermining their dignity. However, we would construe this to refer to an intellectual endeavour - not hooligan type behaviour. Manji does not seem to stop and ask what is so rational or intellectual about flushing copies of the Holy Qur'an down the toilet, or painting a Christian cross on its front cover?
Furthermore, Manji's call for an enlightened discourse sits oddly with her uncritical adoption of tired orientalist accusations against the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), allegations which have already been answered a countless number of times previously by Muslim scholars. Muslims have been committing the Qur'an to memory since the time of the Prophet. Even children memorise large portions of the Qur'an. Ms Manji fails to substantiate her accusation of how - in these circumstances - errors were introduced into the Qur'an. Indeed, the Qur'an itself challenges its readers to find inconsistencies in it. Ms Manji asserts that there are contradictions, but noticeably fails to refer to any.
It is hard not to conclude that Manji's main interest is actually in provoking Muslims in order to promote herself and fatten her bank account.
The Muslim Council of Britain
London E15 1NT