MQI's worldwide response to caricature issue

Report by: Jawed Iqbal Tahiri
Directorate of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

Minhaj-ul-Quran International (MQI) played a pivotal and unique role in the worldwide response of the Muslim ummah to the publication of the blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) initially printed in European newspapers. MQI decided that rather than taking to the streets and venting our anger through protests and rallies (the position taken by many other organisations) which does not really achieve anything other than a little media coverage, a more comprehensive response should be adopted. The media on the other hand only prefers to give coverage to extreme acts such as burning of flags, which of course is not practiced by MQI. Although MQI did hold peaceful rallies in Pakistan and around the world, this was not the main focus of its effort in light of the publication of the caricatures.

Shaykh-ul-Islam Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri in an emergency meeting on the issue with the MQI leadership, decided that a more productive and beneficial response should be adopted to address the arguments being used in the West to justify the publication of these caricatures, at all levels. The arguments focused on the Western principle of freedom of expression which of course has nothing to do with the issue. Therefore after consultation with the MQI leadership Shaykh-ul-Islam decided on writing a detailed memorandum on the issue.

The memorandum deals with the fallacy which is being painted over the publication of the caricatures that they were rightly published under the basic human right of freedom of expression. Quoting charters and statutes from Western laws together with statements of world leaders, Shaykh-ul-Islam has proved in this document that although freedom of speech is a basic right, it cannot infringe the basic human rights of other individuals in any way. The dual standards shown in some Western countries on the issue of freedom of expression is also documented. Recent examples of which are the imprisonment of Dr. David Irving for denying the Holocaust and Ken Livingstone the Mayor of London being suspended from office for making an 'offensive' comment during a private conversation.

The memorandum was placed on all of our websites alongside the Arabic and Urdu versions. It was posted to all embassy missions in Pakistan with replies being received from ambassadors who have whole heartedly accepted the memorandum and intend to do their utmost to solve the issue. They called on Shaykh-ul-Islam to stand up and present the true moderate voice of Islam so that it is not hijacked by extremists.

The memorandum was posted to the heads of the UN, EU, OIC, UN Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International together with their offices in Pakistan. It was also posted to all heads of states. The memorandum was sent to all parliamentarians (MNAs, senators, MPAs), leaders, academics, intellectuals and prominent individuals from all walks of life in Pakistan.

It was sent to all MQI branches around the world who forwarded it to their local governments and media. For instance, in the UK, Executive members of MQI London held fruitful meetings in the Houses of Parliament with British MPs on the issue and presented copies of the memorandum to them.

The memorandum was published in the majority of Pakistani newspapers particularly in the main national dailies. It was also published by popular websites and magazines outside Pakistan such as the MPACUK website.

Peaceful rallies were held for several weeks in many cities in Pakistan. MQI UK was one of the main organisers of a rally at Trafalgar Square, London which was attended by an estimated 40,000 people. An MQI UK representative also addressed the rally. The rally was highlighted positively in the international media. MQI UK also participated fully in the peaceful march from London's Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square, the following weekend. MQI Ireland held two rallies which were reported in the Irish media as the main Muslim rallies on the issue. They also held a march thanking the Irish media for not publishing the caricatures. MQI Hong Kong also held a rally which was highlighted in their local media. MQI branches around the world protested to the publication of the caricatures in one way or another. The publications of the caricatures were unanimously condemned in Friday prayers for a number of weeks.

World renowned scholars issued a joint declaration against the publication of the caricatures. Shaykh-ul-Islam Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri is the only scholar on the declaration from Pakistan.

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