Condemn Violence, Defend Religious Criticism

Islam will dominate

There is something seriously wrong with a religion in which criticism is met with violence. The recent attacks on the American embassies were not an anomaly. Again and again, we've seen images of enraged Muslims taking to the street every time their religion is criticized or someone draws Muhammad. There has been far too much violence for such silly reasons.

Whenever criticism of Islam leads to violence, two things need to happen: clear condemnation of the violent acts and equally clear defenses of the criticism. No matter how petty, insulting, or over-the-top the criticism may seem, it does not excuse violence. Even when we see the first of these (i.e., condemnation of violence), we rarely see the second. In fact, we often see condemnation of the criticism too. This merely helps to ensure that the violence will continue.

To be clear, not all Muslims are engaging in violence or defending those who do. A brave few are speaking out against the violence. And yet, how many are also defending the right of those who want to criticize their religion to do so? Some but not nearly enough. Even many Christians seem unwilling to do this for fear that their own religion might be criticized.

I agree with Doug (Doug's Views) when he says:

No religion should be exempted from scrutiny no matter the reason given. Fear of violence is exactly the wrong reason to hide one’s head in the sand when these incidents come up. If your first response to dissent is to murder the dissenters then your beliefs have no moral foundation to stand on and your actions prove it. People who don’t condemn it right away when it happens enable that irrational response.
Muslims have every right to refuse to depict Muhammad or to criticize their own religion; they have no right to resort to violence when others do so. In addition to condemning the violence, we must defend the right to free expression and the right to criticize religion.