Amid concerns about the reaction of Muslims to the showing of the movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” almost unnoticed came a heartening gesture from the Muslims of Marawi.
In some parts of the world, there have been rallies in front of US embassies; and in a very tragic incident in Libya, US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US embassy personnel were killed.
But in Marawi City, Muslim leaders decided to petition the Supreme Court to issue a ban on the public viewing of a film so insulting to their faith. It was a sight to see women and children contributing their peso savings to a common fund to pay for court expenses. To me, this scene was a big step toward political maturity.
“We abhor violence, that is why we are seeking legal succor to put a stop to this attack on Islam in the guise of freedom of expression,” said Aga Khan Mangondato Sharief, one of the petitioners (Inquirer, 9/24/12).
In Monday’s edition of ABS-CBN’s “Punto por Punto,” the discussion centered on the showing of “Innocence of Muslims” at the University of the Philippines, in the class of Prof. Harry Roque. My spontaneous reaction was: Why show this movie at all? Why fan the flames of passion ignited by the showing of this film in YouTube?
But Roque’s point was “freedom of speech,” which is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution. While he condemned the movie itself for its tastelessness, he also defended the right of individual expression. Or as Anthony Taberna, host of the show, pointed out, quoting Voltaire, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Once more, the dilemma: Where do you draw the line between freedom and responsibility? If you are protecting your child from a harmful disease, would you unnecessarily expose the child to the disease?
The restraint that moderate Muslims in Marawi have shown should be recognized, and appreciated.
Dalipuga, Iligan City,