Published On: Wed, Jan 14th, 2015 on 1:06 pm

Yorkshire imams denounce Charlie Hebdo cover, call for calm

Charlie Hebdo Je Suis Charlie

Two imams from West Yorkshire are among over 40 Muslim leaders worldwide who have responded to a French satirical magazine’s move to depict the Islamic Prophet Muhammed.

Imam Qari Asim MBE of Leeds Makkah Masjid and Imam Ahmed Desai of Bradford’s Masjid Quba, who are both members of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), have appealed for calm following the controversial move by Charlie Hebdo.

Imam Qari Asim

Imam Qari Asim MBE.

The depiction of Muhammed was the first since last week’s attack on its Paris offices that left 12 people dead.

Staff members who survived the attack promised it would be business as usual at the weekly publication and the next front cover would depict Muhammed.

The first few points issued by the MCB says: “We regret and are naturally hurt by the depiction of our Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace), a great personality held in high esteem by 1.8 billion Muslims and millions more, in such a manner.

“Muslims do believe in freedom of speech. And they do respect the right for people to say what they believe to be correct. However, freedom of speech should not be translated in to a duty to offend. Furthermore, it is common knowledge that absolute freedom of speech does not exist.

“There are laws to protect the dignity and properties of people. We urge governments, civil society and our media to foster a culture of mutual respect and unity, not one of division and disdain.

“Most Muslims will inevitably be hurt, offended and upset by the republication of the cartoons. But our reaction must be a reflection of the teachings of the gentle and merciful character of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Enduring patience, tolerance, gentleness and mercy as was the character of our beloved Prophet (peace and Blessings be upon him) is the best and immediate way to respond.

“Our aim is to not, inadvertently, give the cartoons more prominence through our attention. Muslims must remain calm and peaceful in their speech and actions. Repel harm with goodness is the Qur’anic imperative and by which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived. If we feel strongly, the only course of action to us is with reasoned debate, civil activism and other legal avenues, God willing.”

The leaders say that as British citizens, “Muslims, non-Muslims and people of all backgrounds must come together and show unity and solidarity and not let it divide our communities.”

Muslims have also been reminded that those depicting Muhammed can “never tarnish his image”.

In response to the Charlie Hebdo cover, Twitter users have been promoting Islamic teachings with the hashtag #WhoIsMuhammad.

It has been trending on Twitter.

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