I am writing in regard to the new novel "Jewel of Medina" by Sherry Jones (Beaufort Books) and the free distribution in the presidential election battle states of 28 million copies of the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West."
University of Texas professor Denise Spellberg denounced the novel as incredibly offensive, stupid and likely to incite the wrath of Muslims. She also called the novel a "declaration of war," "a national security issue" that might incite violence and "soft-core pornography."
The Clarion Fund DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" is a very well-designed, wicked anti-Islam and Muslim hate message. Any neutral observer would say this is a biased, one-sided, inflammatory portrayal that seeks to portray Muslims and Islam as Nazilike, with the objectives of killing Jews and Americans, and destroying Israel and America.
The publishing of these types of books and DVDs is nothing less than emotional torture, untamed verbal violence and intellectual terrorism. Muslims should not react emotionally to these types of publications.
The publishers and their supporters utilized the principle of freedom of speech to justify their actions. Europeans and Americans are taught that freedom of speech ends where sensitivities of people begin. This lesson appears to have been forgotten or ignored. No Muslim will dare to publish anything depicting the prophets of Christianity or Judaism. Such actions are considered by Muslims to be blasphemous.
Islam recognizes the dissent to its teachings and appeals to its adherents to deal with it in a civil manner. Islam promotes the idea that a polite response and a decent rebuttal are powerful enough in changing an enemy into a friend. Islam does not seek revenge against those who indulge in anti-Islam abuses. Islam prohibits the use of pressure and intimidation for changing the hearts of people. Every individual has to make a conscious decision about his or her relations with God and his creation.
Our response, as Muslims, to such insults and humiliation should be based on the divine teachings and the lifestyle of Prophet Muhammad. We must not give in to our emotions. We ask to be engaged in a meaningful dialogue and discussions on the true nature of our faith and the true personality of our Prophet, the way we see him. After all, we accept him as a mercy to humankind, including every human being who exists or will exist in our universe.
It is also the responsibility of our religious and intellectual leaders to direct our masses in developing a meaningful response to instances of hate and racial bigotry.
Ahmed N. Elrefai, a retired public engineer, lives in Punta Gorda.