MINAB welcomes the news of cancellation of the controversial Draw Muhammad cartoon competition in Netherlands by Dutch hatemonger Geert Wilders. The controversial cartoon competition was a stunt to gain publicity, on the one hand and an attempt to incite hatred and violence and to unite far right individuals into Wilders anti-Islam cause on the other hand.

Freedom of expression is a value that must be upheld and a right that Muslims respect and cherish. But context and intended effects of some form of free speech must be considered; it should never be allowed to be used to instigate hatred, racism, insult and discrimination. Each right has to be checked with a responsibility.

For Muslims, the Honour of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is an essential part of their faith, and such provocative and hate-filled contests cause a lot of hurt, anguish and offence to over 1.7 billion Muslims across the world. Wilders attacks on Muslims, Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have harmful consequences, just as they would if another faith community or members of a racial minority were targeted. The international authorities must consider how such offensive and controversial acts and contests can be prevented on the basis of hate crime as they only tend to increase division, hatred and violence between communities.

We commend the sincere and wise efforts of many faith leaders and institutions who used democratic means and legal channels to raise awareness about this extremely critical and sensitive issue for Muslims and their efforts to .

There is considerable amount of ignorance about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The MINAB urges Mosques and Imams to hold exhibitions in their Mosques and invite people of all faiths and none to raise awareness about the person of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was through tolerance, kindness, endurance, self-restraint, justice and respect for humanity that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) won the hearts and minds of those who opposed his principles and values and we Muslims must do the same.

Muslims must demonstrate to the world how much mercy, love and affection the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) brought to the lives of those who he came in contact with; how his every action was based on universal principles of mercy, justice, forgiveness and respect for others; how he inspired people to be loving, caring, selfless, law-abiding people and peaceful citizens of the world; how he motivated people to work for the greater good of humanity.

Imam Qari Asim
Chair, MINAB