Monday, September 24, 2012

An open letter to Muslims

Recently, there's been protests from the Muslim world calling for the execution of a particular filmmaker who posted online a film entitled, "Innocence of Muslims" that is critical of the Muslim faith. I took the liberty of watching this poorly made film myself, and found it to be boring. What is interesting, however, is the negative reaction of those of the Muslim faith. To me, whether or not this film is an accurate portrayal is besides the point. It's not anti-Muslim in the sense that it generates hatred towards Muslims as antisemitism does towards Jews; it's simply an interpretation of the writings of the Koran that casts a prophet in a negative light. It speaks nothing of the people of the Muslim faith today, whom I consider as equally as misguided as Christians are by this faith but still generally good people. And yet, these people would call for the hanging or beheading of this filmmaker who did nothing more than to make a film showing his interpretation of the Koran. Nobody was hurt, nor did watching it cause me to want to hate Muslims. However, the reaction of Muslims has caused me to reconsider; it would seem as though they are attempting to drag the world back into the dark ages.

Consider the protests against American embassies around the world. Clearly, the American government had nothing to do with the creation of this film. However, the United States of America offers freedom to the extent that freedom of speech does include criticism of organized religion, just as it also includes criticism of the American government itself. Films that criticize the American government are far more prevalent than those criticizing religion, and you would think that would give the protesting Muslims a clue. Instead, they continually demonstrate their hatred of freedom with each and every protest. In this, it is not this movie that makes me dislike people of the Muslim faith, but rather the reaction of those people and their attack on freedom that means a lot to me. It's this freedom that protects me from religion, and is something I value deeply, because, from all that I've observed, freedom from religion is what ultimately leads to progress with humanity. We learn more, understand more, live better and longer without religion holding us back. I respect a person's choice to be religious and to be critical of science, but I in turn expect their respect of my choice to be non-religious and to be critical of religion. The truly intelligent argue the point, not the person.

Ultimately, the truly intellectually honest Muslim has to recognize a fundamental issue is at hand and challenging their beliefs. If their god Allah really exists and controls our lives, and if "Innocence of Muslims" is truly offensive to this god by portraying one of His prophets in a negative light, then that god should decide the punishment for the creator of this film and those involved. If your god Allah does not punish that person, then you must accept that either: a) Allah does not care about or may even approve of this film, or b) Allah does not exist. I personally would go with option B, but either way, as soon as you get involved and decide to execute this person, I have to ask: Who the hell do you think you are, exercising the will of Allah? Let Allah speak for Himself, if he truly exists.