Originally Published in The Austin Chronicle
The shooting outside an event in Garland where people were asked to draw cartoons of Prophet Muhammad should be condemned by all. Islam does not condone any punishment for blasphemy. In fact, during the Prophet Muhammad’s life, people hurled all kinds of abuse at him yet he bore it with patience and forgave them all. Those who act against the Prophet’s own example obviously have no respect for the Prophet or the peaceful message of Islam.
While we condemn this act of violence, we should also be aware that this event had little to do with freedom of speech. The American Freedom Defense Initiative is a recognized hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and their purpose in this event was obviously to offend Muslims. We respect everyone’s right to freedom of speech even if others find it offensive. But if that speech serves no useful purpose, as is the case here, then we should all be united in condemnation of such speech.