5 incidents when ‘blasphemy’ against Prophet Muhammad led to widespread communal violence and riots
The southern metropolis of Bengaluru yesterday convulsed with communal flare-ups as rampaging Muslims took to the street to protest against a Facebook post that allegedly insulted Prophet Muhammad
A legion of violent protesters hit the roads of Bengaluru, indulging in arson and vandalism, to mark their protest against the allegedly derogatory post on Prophet Muhammad. Chants of “Allahu Akbar” and “Naara e Taqbeer” reverberated across the neighborhoods that found themselves in the grips of violence let loose by the Islamist.
However, the carnage that was unleashed in Bengaluru is neither an aberration, nor any novelty is attached to the protests carried out by the Islamist. Across the world, Islamist resort to violence and barbarity when they deem their religion and its propagator Prophet Muhammad is referred to in an unfavorable manner.
An unflattering reference to Prophet Muhammad or what is considered as ‘Blasphemy’ is often a rallying cry for the Islamist to unleash their primordial instinct of indulging in brute violence and communal riots against the ‘non-believers’. The critical viewpoint on Prophet Muhammad or Islam acts as a trigger to let out the cathartic release of the pent-up hatred harbored by these Islamist against those who dare to speak up uncomfortable facts.
Here are the 5 incidents when comments, caricature or critical views on Prophet Muhammad has touched off a wave of violence and communal riots:
Charlie Hebdo killings1The incident that has come to symbolize the intolerance and violence attached with the unfavourable portrayal of Prophet Muhammad is none other than the brazen shooting of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.
Armed with rifles, Islamists barged into the office of Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015, and opened indiscriminate firing at the employees working at the weekly satirical magazine. The massacre had evidently taken place in retaliation to Charlie Hebdo’s satirical and critical depictions of Prophet Muhammad and other Islamic leaders that had attracted considerable worldwide attention. 17 people were killed in the shooting and 11 others were injured.
Assassination of Kamlesh Tiwari2Former Hindu Mahasabha leader and the founder of Hindu Samaj Party Kamlesh Tiwari was killed by Islamists last year at his residence in Lucknow. Two assailants had sneaked in weapons inside a packet of sweets and entered his house. They attacked him and slit his throat and hurried away from his house.
The attack was primarily carried out in response to Kamlesh Tiwari’s comments on Prophet Muhammad’s sexuality back in 2015. Tiwari’s snarky remarks, raising questions on Prophet Muhammad’s sexuality attracted the wrath of thousands of Muslims. He was subsequently arrested by the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh and lodged in jail for years.
However, after he was freed from the jail, two highly-motivated Islamists, with the assistance from a number of other colleagues, assassinated Kamlesh Tiwari in broad daylight at his Lucknow residence in October 2019. Tiwari was reportedly stabbed 15 times and the murderers tried to slit his throat twice.
Danish Cartoons on Prophet Muhammad3A representation of Muhammad’s turban as a fused bomb precipitated global outrage when it was published in Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten. The newspaper published not one but 12 such editorial cartoons on September 30, 2005, attracting the fury of the Muslim groups in Denmark.
The paper announced that it was its earnest attempt to contribute to the debate surrounding the criticism of Islam and self-censorship. However, such clarification fell on deaf ears as Muslim protesters went about demonstrating against the newspaper, calling the depiction of Prophet Muhammad by the daily as “inflammatory”. The issue eventually led to protests around the world, including violent demonstrations and riots in some Muslim countries, killing more than 200 people.
Innocence of Muslims
An American film that sparked violence in several Muslim countries4‘Innocence of Muslims’ was a short anti-Islamic short film that depicted the life of Prophet Muhammad. Predictably, the YouTube videos of the movie uploaded in July 2012, sparked outrage across the Muslim world, with many calling for the ban on the movie.
The attempt to portray the life of Prophet Muhammad was deemed as the denigration of the Islamic prophet and resulted in the large-scale demonstrations and violent protests. The demonstrations first erupted in Egypt and soon spread to different parts of the Arab world. The protests led to hundreds of injuries, and more than 50 people died in the violence that accompanied those protests. Fatwas were called to harm the actors of the movie, and the Pakistan government minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour offered a bounty for the killing of the producer of the movie.
A book on Prophet Muhammad led to killing of the publisher5Rangeela Rasool (Colorful Prophet) was a book written by Arya Samaj during its confrontation with Muslims in India during the 1920s. The controversial book concerned the marriages of Prophet Muhammad. It was written in retaliation to a pamphlet issued by a Muslim, depicting the Hindu Goddess Sita as a prostitute.
The book Rangeela Rasool irked Muslims with its sacrilegious commentary on the life of Prophet Muhammad. While the writer of the book was not revealed until later, the published of the book, Mahashay Rajpal, was targeted by the Muslims for publishing a blasphemous book to Prophet Muhammad. After he was acquitted by a court in 1929, a young Muslim carpenter Ilm-Deen brutally stabbed and killed Rajpal.
Deen was subsequently arrested and convicted for killing Rajpal in October 1929. However, his act of brutality turned him into a hero for the Muslims and he was accorded with honorifics Ghazi and Shaheed. His funeral was reportedly attended by 600,000 people and he still remains famous in Pakistan even almost a century later, partly because of a movie that celebrated the incident.