Blasphemy is in the eye of the believer
The petition against Maajid Nawaz is deeply offensive, says Padraig Reidy
21 Jan 14

Maajid Nawaz

Maajid Nawaz, former Islamist and current Liberal Democrat, is facing the fearsome wrath of a petition after he tweeted a frame of a “Jesus and Mo” cartoon on Sunday.

Nawaz tweeted the picture after a discussion about the cartoons on BBC’s The Big Questions. The BBC had declined to show any of the cartoons, which depict Jesus and Muhammad as friends, usually chatting in a bar.

Anyway, there is now a petition calling for Nawaz to be deselected as Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for “Hamstead (sic) and Kilburn”, “ because of the offensive images he posted on FaceBook/Twitter of the Prophets Muhammed and Jesus peace be upon them”

The petitioners claim that the Jesus And Mo cartoons feature the two in homoerotic scenes, drinking, swearing etc. In fact, for people who are shocked – SHOCKED! – by the portrayal of Muhammad, they seem to have spent a lot of time looking at portrayals of him.

Ultimately the issue is that orthodox Sunni Islam prohibits any portrayal of the prophet (or any other of God’s creations, for that matter), and hence the cartoons are blasphemous, or “offensive”, as we now call it.

Well here’s the problem. In their description of Jesus as a “prophet”, they’ve in fact committed an extreme blasphemy against the Christian faith, which holds that Jesus is divine. People used be executed for denying Christianity. People used to be executed for less.

If the petitioners are serious in their concern about offence, they should apologise to Christians immediately.

But of course that would be ridiculous. The alternative would be to carry on believing what they believe, and not spend their time seeking out offence. Crazy, but it might just work.

By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.