LONDON: Labour MP Naz Shah has made a blistering speech in the British Parliament stating that the emotional harm caused to billions of Muslims is unbearable when bigots and racists defame, slander, or abuse Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The Bradford Labour MP was taking part in a debate on the topic of “Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill” which proposes a maximum of a 10-year sentence for those involved in damaging or attacking statutes.
Naz Shah told the parliament that the UK government was “rushing through this bill in order to recognise that statues symbolise the historical, cultural, and social feelings of our nation” and thus protecting feelings linked to such sensitivities is essential to preserve civil order. It is because, as the Justice Secretary told the Commons, this bill “ensures our courts have sufficient sentencing powers to punish the emotional harm caused by this type of offending”, she said.
She then asked the parliament to consider the feelings of Muslims and how they rever their Prophet (PBUH) and the value they attach to Him (PBUH).
She said: “We cannot pretend that a western liberal democracy like Britain does not consider feelings when it comes to such situations, whilst at the same time today passing a law through parliament giving such importance to protecting statues based upon “commemorative” feelings.
“As a Muslim, for me and millions of Muslims across this country and the quarter of the world’s population that is Muslim too, with each day and each breath, there is not a single thing in the world that we commemorate and honour more than our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
“But when bigots and racists defame, slander or abuse our Prophet PBUH, just like some people do to the likes of Winston Churchill, the emotional harm caused upon our hearts is unbearable.
“Because for two billion Muslims, he is the leader we commemorate in our hearts, honour in our lives and forms the basis of our identity and our very existence.”
Naz Shah went on to quote the noted playwright George Bernard Shaw as saying about the Prophet (PBUH): “He was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth.”
She added: “To those who say it’s just a cartoon, I won’t say it’s only a statue because I understand the strength of the British feeling when it comes to our history, our culture and our identity. It’s not just a cartoon and they’re not just statues. They represent, symbolise, and mean so much more to us as human beings.”
She said in her speech that whilst this law will now protect civil order and emotional harm when it comes to secular and political figures such as Oliver Cromwell and Churchill and does not necessarily for other figures that many people in modern Britain, hold close to their heart such as Jesus, The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Moses, Raam, Buddha, Guru Nanak and many others — it does show that we recognise there is such a thing as emotional harm.
She said that when someone defames or vandalises statues of people like Winston Churchill in a mob-like fashion, who means so much to millions of Britons because they hold his efforts during the second world war so close to their hearts, then that does threaten the cohesive nature of our nation.