Revisiting the quest for a new blasphemy law:

Just hours after Kim Leadbeater took her seat in Parliament, following a campaign dogged by questions about a Batley school teacher forced to go into hiding for showing children a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, [Labour MP Naz] Shah delivered an eyebrow-raising intervention likening such depictions to the vandalism of Winston Churchill’s statue.

This call from a frontbench spokesperson to treat cartoons of Mohammed as equivalent to actual public vandalism has caused something of a belated backlash, amid fears it would mean the restoration of blasphemy laws. Such restrictions were abolished in England, incidentally, by the last Labour government in 2008.  Shah told the Commons:

As a Muslim, for me and millions of Muslims across this country and a quarter of the world’s population who are 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, Mohammed, peace be upon him. 

If that’s true it’s tragic. It’s tragic in its narrowness as well as its delusion. All there is in the world to value, and religious zealots focus on just one guy who lived 14 centuries ago. It’s such a waste.

But when bigots and racists defame, slander or abuse our Prophet, peace be upon him, just like some people do the likes of Churchill, the emotional harm caused upon our hearts is unbearable, because for 2 billion Muslims, he is the leader we commemorate in our hearts and honour in our lives, and he forms the basis of our identity and our very existence.

Again: that’s a pathetic thing to admit. It’s a pathetic way to live.

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