In Europe laughter used to be forbidden – by the Inquisition, in the 20th century the fascists abolished cabaret and the communists were sending enthusiasts of political satire to the gulags, today people mocking Islam lose career opportunities and the proponents of punishing blasphemers are greeted with honours.
No mocking Islam because it has no sense of humour.
After terrorist attack on the satirical magazine „Charlie Hebdo”, in Europe there is still a hunting season for those, who, while expressing their freedom of speech, insist on the right to make jokes about religions, including the religion of Allah. This way the achievements of Enlightenment in Europe are being destroyed and the freedom limited.
On the Old Continent, we long fought for the right to freedom of speech. Just remember Molière’s troubles caused by violations of religious and social taboos, persecutions of the Encyclopédistes by the Church, and finally the love of satirical poems by the Enlightenment writers. In fact, since 18th century in Europe the right to satire or caricatural representation of some phenomena has become a measure of freedom of speech.
Satirical branding of hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and even Biblical characters or Catholic principles of faith could fill more than one library. Jews tell jokes about rabbis, Catholics sometimes make fun out of Church, mocking Islam, however is a different issue. Islam is devoid of the sense of humour and any distance to itself. Islam resembles a permanently disgruntled boy, who is laughed at by his playmates and who does not see that he slips into ridicule. It’s hard to keep a straight face when Muslim clerics call Mickey Mouse „the spawn of Satan”, condemn doing sports by women and finally encourage Muslim women to breastfeed their work colleagues.
Laughter as an expression of moral objection
Laughter has also been a tool for the fight against totalitarianism, religious fanaticism, bigotry or the superstitious thinking. Cultural studies point to the important social role of humour and derision. „Satirical comedy plays an educational role primarily by criticism and condemnation of evil. Satire is always a form of negation and disapproval. Application of comic satire method is a form of punishment. Satirical ridicule should elicit in whom it refers to – humiliation, shame and feeling of dissatisfaction with oneself. It is to deter misconduct and encourage to correct errors… Satire in general shapes critical and uncompromising attitude towards evil” (Bohdan Dziemidok, On comism, Warsaw 1967).
From this perspective, it seems morally justified to ridicule these elements of the biography of Muhammad which do not deserve respect – robbing caravans, marriage with a child, polygamy or finally the crimes committed against Jews and assassinations of his critics.
Satirical edge should be levelled also at those verses of Quran, which incite to violence against infidels, to discriminate against women. It is also difficult to keep a straight face towards Islamic custom of forcing burqas on women, because this garb’s function is to exclude them from the society. Nervous laughter can be a reaction to, full of pathos, sermons of imams, who call for violence against infidels, Jews or homosexuals. Also terrorists with their doctrine of jihad make an easy object of ridicule, similar to mocking of Hitler and his followers, exposing their moral shortcomings. Laughter strips of sacrum, takes away the privilege of being taken seriously and shows absurdity of a world view based on the revelations, fatwas or sharia bans.
Laughter incompatible with the sharia
Muslim clerics know very well about the power of laughter. Satire levelled against Muhammad, Quran or some Muslim customs is strictly forbidden in the Muslim law. To the question: „What kind of jokes are permitted in Islam?” Rashid al-Hasan from the University of King Khalid replies: „The joke should not disparage any issues related to faith, nor should it in any way demean, hurt or mock others. There are several verses in the Quran that describe that”.
„Laughter is treated in the Islamic culture as the worst enemy, because it exposes hypocrisy, it is an expression of human freedom and a weapon against subjugation”.
In other words, every aspect of the Islamic faith should be excluded from the social criticism that uses a satire. This is why for years Muslims have been pushing European governments to accepts the sharia law in this aspect of life. In some countries you can laugh at Christianity, Judaism, Protestantism but not at Islam. In August, a resident of Belfast was sentenced to six months in prison for jokes, whose target was Raied Al-Wazzan, a supporter of mass murderers from the Islamic State. She was accused of offending religious feelings, while it was admitted that religious feeling are more important than the right to condemn terrorism committed in the name of religion.
The UK in this respect follows the footsteps of Saudi Arabia, where a year earlier Palestinian poet Ashram Fayad was sentenced to death penalty for publishing a volume of poems, which according to the court offend Allah and Muhammad. The difference between the UK and Saudi Arabia concerning the right to criticise Islam is only in the severity of punishment, not its ethical justification.
When his recording of mocking Islamic religious practices leaked to the social media, Sportsman Louis Smith was suspended from the British Gymnastics membership. What was the reaction of the young athlete? „I like to think that she (his mother) brought me up to be a better human being than this. And that’s been the hardest part to deal with – letting people down so close to me and those that look up to me. I’m ashamed to have put people in this position” – Smith confessed repentantly. If one was to take these words out context, one would get the impression that Smith committed a serious crime and not that he was only joking. It took a joke at colleague’s wedding for the Islamic Party (by this term I describe Muslim organisations imposing sharia doctrine on Europe) to demand a harsh punishment for the young gymnast. The apology was not enough. Why? Because, according to Muslim political and religious activists, his act of expiation could not wash away his guilt, which „contributes to the harm suffered by the followers of Allah”. Let us emphasise – the harm, which consists of telling a joke in a private situation!
Totalitarianism is afraid of laughter
I am a representative of the last generation born in the still communist Poland. I do not remember too much of that time but the memory of my parents and grandparents extends much further. I know, not only from the history books but also from family tales that in the times of communism telling a political joke could be the end of a carrier or the reason for harassment, hence my associations with the time of totalitarianism.
After the publication of the recording, Smith’s own words resemble the ritual of self-criticism practised in the times of Stalinism. As it can be noticed, in both cases there is the same complaint – the spoken „thoughcrime”. Laughter is treated in the Islamic culture as the worst enemy because it exposes hypocrisy, it is an expression of human freedom and a weapon against subjugation. For these reasons Muslims cannot forgive when someone laughs at their religion.
Kill those who laugh
Politically correct media and the authorities in the UK, as one can clearly see, support punishing for laughing at the religion. In their eyes laughter is the manifestation of racism and xenophobia, afraid that unbridled jokes may bring back the terrors of fascism.
It is exactly the opposite. Laughter is a test showing the distance of given group to itself or the lack thereof. It was the humourless fascists who put comedians in concentration camps and with the rise of Hitler to power the German cabaret ceased to exist. In the USSR and other communist countries it was similar – for telling, even in private situation, a joke offending „religious” feelings of the party one would get to the gulag. It was enough to be the object of a wiretap recording or denunciation.
Surprisingly, similar practices are taking place in the homeland of modern democracy, which over the years has built its identity exactly on the freedom and the right to criticise religions. Politically correct journalists, who publicly lynched Smith, behave like sharia police.
They uncritically accept ban on mocking Islam; at the same time they are unfazed by the jokes at Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism.
After the disclosure of a private recoding Smith received death threats from Muslims. Most shockingly, this did not concern many pundits. Furthermore, the athlete stated that he has guilty conscience. In this way he accepted the sharia norm, according to which the person who committed offence against Islam should be sentenced to death.
It’s hardly surprising, since a few months ago, in the presence of the Mayor of London, a Muslim religious and political leader who called for killing of blasphemers, was honoured. At the same time London authorities want to spend thousands of pounds on the fight against hate speech online meaning tracing those who openly express critical attitude towards Muslims.
Probably the British society can draw conclusion from both of these situations – even privately, do not offend Islam, because Islam forbids it.
And even if one is not a Muslim, one should respect the Muslim religious law – after all Islamic law says so! Most importantly, Muhammad must be respected because of his being such a great prophet. Just please do not laugh at this! Besides, is anyone still laughing?