by Tahir Nasser, President AMSA UK
Yesterday I was taken aback by a strange incident that took place at Reading University. The University’s Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society (RAHS) named a pineapple ‘Muhammad’ and later ‘Jesus’ which resulted in them being thrown out of the Fresher’s Fair as they refused to remove it from their stand.
What shocks me regarding this behaviour by RAHS is their audacity to stand by these absurd actions in the name of ‘Freedom of Speech.’ Over the last two years we have seen the ‘Arab spring’ in which entire peoples have toppled governments that had brutalised and oppressed their Freedom of Speech for decades. Is this the same Freedom of Speech that the RAHS claim is being infringed in their case? They seem to have not grasped that very point that Roald Dahl put so eloquently, that: [It] puts a severe strain on the very power principle that the writer has an absolute right to say what he likes. In a civilized world we all have a moral obligation to apply a modicum of censorship to our own work in order to reinforce this principle of free speech.
Unfortunately, in their puerile bid to make the headlines (which they have unfortunately succeeded in doing), RAHS have not understood that it is no worthy thing to simply possess ‘Freedom of Speech’ – what is rather praiseworthy is the exercise of one’s speech in a manner which leads to peace and reconciliation between diverse peoples.
As president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (AMSA) in the UK and in UCL specifically, such behaviour is something that has been witnessed already last year from their sister society in UCL, which posted a crude cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, and it has all become rather tedious. The AMSA’s of the UK, in reply to the shameless video that emerged from the US as well as the repulsive response shown by many Muslims worldwide, is hosting a series of events across Imperial College London, University College London and Queen Mary’s University of London on the 11th, 17th and 23rd of October, entitled ‘The Innocence of Muhammad’ in a bid to educate students about Muhammad’s character and life.
It is our belief that it is such education that is the only path that leads to peace and reconciliation and that it is indeed, the only path that the Prophets himself, may God bless him, would have endorsed.
Tahir Nasser, a public speaker on Islam, writer and medical student, is national President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Student’s Association (AMSA) UK.