The film “Innocence of Muslims” has provoked a violent response from Muslims around the world. The film may be amateurish, its origins may be less than auspicious, it may be offensive to Muslims, but the Secular Party defends the right to make such a film. Freedom of speech should not be surrendered in the face of threats and violence.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not include the right not to be offended. Those who may be offended by the film need not watch it.

The film may in fact serve a useful purpose in highlighting the nature of the Prophet Muhammad in early Islamic history. According to the original biography by ibn Ishaq, it was Muhammad’s military campaigns that enabled Islam to be established in Mecca in the year 630. This legacy is reflected in the Koran, and it is a relevant factor in understanding the motivation for current day terrorism and insurgencies.

Rational debate is the only solution. We should be encouraged to examine our beliefs in the light of reason and evidence. If our beliefs are found wanting, we should discard them. The truth may be uncomfortable, but it is ultimately gratifying. The secular values of honesty, compassion, freedom and justice provide the only lasting path to peace.

Sep 17, 2012