Deploring the “Violation of religious and social rights in Sweden and France”, secretary-general of the World Assembly of Ahl al-Bayt (AS) said, “It is peculiar to us that in the modern age,where science and technology are at the apex of progress, such irrational actions sometimes inflame and disturb human societies – unexpectedly in Europe, which claims to be the flagship of thought and culture in the modern centuries.”
Following the insult of some anti-Islamists to the Holy Quran in Sweden, and the republishing of an insulting image of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) by the French publication, the Secretary General of the World Assembly of the Ahl al-Bayt (AS) issued an important statement.
In this statement which is composed with a look beyond religions, Ayatollah Reza Ramezani called on intellectuals, human rights organizations, and European governments to employall peaceful and cultural meansavailable to root out such hateful behaviorswhich are anti-social, and against human rights from their societies.
“Both sides of extremism are destructive – whether religious extremism which manifested in groups like “ISIL” and “Boko Haram” or anti-religious extremism which manifested in groups like “Hard Line” (Danish: StramKurs) and Charlie Hebdo (which has insulted Prophet Muhammad). Both of them aim at rationality, security, democracy, peace, freedom, spirituality, and tranquility of human societies”, Ayatollah Ramezani emphasized.
The full text of Ayatollah Reza Ramezani's statement is as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
In recent days, unfortunately,two anti-religious and anti-human rights incidents in two European countries upset Muslims and worried human rights advocates: Danish anti-Islam extremists burned the Holy Quran in Sweden and Charlie Hebdo magazine insulted Prophet Muhammad in France.
It is too peculiar to us that in the modern age, where science and technology are at the apex of flourishing, sometimes such irrational actions inflame and disturb human societies – unexpectedly in Europe, which claims to be the flagship of thought and culture in the modern centuries.
Stranger still, these actions were carried out under the pretext of “Freedom of speech and expression.” Whereas the freedom of speech and expression is quite different from “insulting the sanctities and beliefs of the others.”
In this regard, and as the Secretary-General of an assembly whose members are the intellectuals of more than 100 countries, I need to draw the attention of scholars, thinkers, libertarians, and human rights institutions of the world - especially from Sweden and France - to some important points:
1. Regardless of religious or theological issues, the abnormal actions of far-right extremists in Sweden and the misdeeds of a publication in France, are clear examples of hatred and, as a result, a clear violation of the right to freedom of religion, belief, and opinion.
2. These two incidents, and actions similar to them, are a clear violation of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”Insulting the respected symbols of about two billion people in the world is not considered just and brotherly behavior.
3. The incidents which took place in Sweden and France, are threats tothe Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18, which explicitly states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes ... freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”This is while the insult and aggression against the sanctities of hundreds of millions of people which took place in these two countries, seek to spread fear of Islam and Muslims and there by suppressing the religious freedom of Muslims and restricting their teachings and rituals.
4. According to Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, education “shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups.”However, the aberrant actions in Sweden and France are in complete contradiction with the contents of this article and do not lead to the desired result –“It (the education) shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
5. According to Article 29 of the Declaration, “Everyone is liable to his community.” The second part of Article 29 reads, “In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.” However, the burning of the Holy Quran in the Swedish city of Malmö has endangered the city’s security, and also Charlie Hebdo’s inhumane behaviors have already led to several acts of violence in France and abroad.
6. In addition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (signed by both Sweden and France and they are required to abide it), the incidents which have been taken place in these two European countries are also condemned according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted by United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966. According to Article 19 of the Covenant, “The exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities (and)it may therefore be subject to certain restrictions”, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.
The two incidents in Sweden and France have, therefore, violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both in nature and in consequence.
The above six paragraphs were expressed from a human rights perspective and beyond religions. Of course, it is very clear that by examining these events from the perspective of religious teachings, they will be condemned by all religions of the world, the issue that needs to be discussed in detail elsewhere.
According to what has been mentioned above, we strongly expect, Firstly, from intellectual, libertarian, and normative figures; Secondly, from civil societies and human rights organizations; and Thirdly, from European governments; to root out such hateful, anti-social, and anti-human rights actions of their communities through various peaceful and cultural methods.
Both sides of extremism are destructive – whether religious extremism manifested in groups like “ISIL” and “Boko Haram” or anti-religious extremism which manifested in groups like “StramKurs” and Charlie Hebdo magazine. Both of them aim at rationality, security, democracy, peace, freedom, spirituality, and tranquility of human societies.
I declare here that the Ahl Al-Bayt (AS) World Assembly is ready to hold scientific and cultural meetings with all those who have questions or information about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Holy Quran, or Islamic rules and talk in a scientific and peaceful atmosphere, away from extremism. As God commanded us as “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice and dispute with them in a manner that is best.” (16:125)
Secretary General of Ahl Al-Bayt (AS) World Assembly
September 4, 2020