Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayya, vice chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and member of numerous international organizations, released the statement late last week, entitled “Declaration Regarding the Offensive Video to Muslims.” Bin Bayya’s message came in response to the worldwide violence that has broken out following the release of a film that mocks Islam. The amateur film, called Innocence of Muslims, was produced in California by an Egyptian native.
“[I]t is our hope that you reconsider and criminalize the denigration of religious symbols, as such provocations do not serve the principles of free speech, principles that you and us both seek to uphold,” Bin Bayyah wrote. “We are extremely concerned with a small active minority in your countries that seeks to perpetuate a state of conflict and war.”
He specifically addressed three groups in his statement. The first he called “people of reason and understanding.”
“We ask everyone to ponder the ramifications of provoking the feelings of over one billion people by a small party of people who desires not to seek peace nor fraternity between members of humanity. This poses a threat to world peace with no tangible benefit realized,” Bin Biyyah stated. “Is it not necessary in today’s world for the United Nations to issue a resolution criminalizing the impingement of religious symbols? We request all religious and political authorities, as well as people of reason to join us in putting a stop to this futility that benefits no one.”
Secondly, Bin Bayyah spoke to Muslims around the world.
“Expressing outrage in the face of the maligning of God or the Prophet Muhammad is a moral right, as faith cannot be devoid of feelings and immunity from provocation. It is from the completeness of our faith that we love the Prophet Muhammad more than our wealth, more than our beloveds, more than even our own selves,” he continued. “Consequently, we implore you not to inflict violence upon anyone, whether foreign delegations or otherwise. You should not destroy property or flout the values and cherished principles that you defend, as attacking innocents, killing foreign diplomats and ambassadors contravenes religious and moral principles before it contravenes political ones.”
Lastly, Bin Bayyah addressed the Western world and referenced Christianity.
“Our Lord has enjoined us to respect and treat equitably our neighbors, regardless of race or religious affiliation. Jesus Christ also spoke of love of thy neighbor. We will remain neighbors forever,” he stated. “No reasonable person would conclude that it would be possible for either of us to disappear from the face of the earth. Therefore, why shouldn’t we cooperate to establish effective neighborly relations in an effort to create a space for mutual liberty and prosperity?”
According to reports, the declaration was also served upon several organizations within the United States.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has similarly written to the United Nations to voice disapproval with the film’s mockery of Islam.