Beirut: Prominent Lebanese Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hasan Al Amin called on Muslims to refrain from violence and to fight back the satirical drawings by the French magazine “Charlie Hebdo” with the same weapon.
“I would like to point to a basic Islamic principle in the Quran in a verse that says ‘Argue them with reason’ or ‘Attack them in the same way they have attacked you’ in the worst case,” he said.
Recalling that Charlie Hebdo is a secular publication, Al Amin said that “Islam does not justify the attack on the holy sites of other religious, Islam does not encourage the use of violence outside the framework of the law.”
“Islam does not allow any Muslim individual or group to take dangerous decisions and implement them without referring to the legitimate religious institutions entitled to take such a critical and big decisions, taking into account the public interest,” he said, in reference to the attack by extremists on “Charlie Hebdo.
Last week’s attack on the publication’s Paris offices, provoked by satirical drawings of Prophet Mumammad, left 12 people dead, and was claimed by Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch.
The magazine this week published a new satirical drawing of the prophet on its cover. The cover shows the prophet shedding a tear and holding up a sign reading “Je suis Charlie” in sympathy with the dead journalists. The headline says “All is forgiven”. There has been a mixed reaction in the Arab world to the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices.
Al Amin also supported Al-Azhar’s call on Muslims to ignore the publication saying that any future terror attacks against Charlie Hebdo office “would further complicate the problem.”
“I don’t think that this publication will refrain from what it claims to be freedom of expression, supported by the West, and a new terror act would lead to an international coalition to fight Muslim countries and people and could use procedures that harm these people, especially Muslims in Europe,” he said.
Earlier this week, the leading centre for Sunni Islam Al-Azhar described the publication as “repellent” and “disgusting” but called on Muslims everywhere to ignore the cartoons. The Islamic educational institute Dar Al-Ifta, which issues religious edicts, also called it an “unjustifiably provocative” act that would cause a “new wave of anger”.
Pope Francis has also defended Thursday freedom of expression following the attack the French magazine, but also stressed its limits. The pontiff said religions had to be treated with respect, so that people’s faiths were not insulted or ridiculed.