Editorial

AFDI differs from Charlie Hebdo

Friday, May 8, 2015

The distinction between different groups knowingly angering Muslims is a bit complicated, but needs to be understood.

A recent attack on an event in Texas hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) was quickly thwarted. Two Muslim gunmen, apparently intent on murdering participants at the event, were killed after inflicting only minor injuries on a security guard.

The event was an art show and competition for caricatures of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Depiction of Muhammad is prohibited by Islam.

AFDI is a hate group that criticizes Islam broadly. Among the positions it has taken has been that a Muslim community center in New York within sight of the Twin Towers memorial defiles that memorial.

Although the right of the organization to express offensive views is protected in our society, there is reason to include a qualifier about this organization causing unnecessary strife.

The cartoonists for Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France, draw cartoons targeted at Islamic militants, not at the entire Muslim community. In January of this year, two Islamic militants entered Charlie Hebdo's headquarters and killed 11 people.

Many Muslims condemn such acts.

Harris Zafar, a spokesman for the multinational organization Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said, "Violent reaction is never sanctioned. Islam actually does champion free speech, it's not just a talking point. There is no evidence in the Quran or in the life of Muhammad that says that you are allowed to intimidate others by silencing them. Acts like this or Charlie Hebdo or what others have faced is a gross violation of Islam, and we condemn it wholeheartedly."

"The Quran says to respond to speech with speech," he added.