Originally posted at About.com: Austin Cline writes about the 15-year-old UK girl who was arrested after allegations that she burned a Quran. Muslims once again play the professional victims with the CEO of the Muslim public affairs committing saying it’s ‘one of the most offensive acts to Muslims she could imagine’ I can think of – and Austin names – about a dozen more offensive acts one could commit. But, maybe that’s because my mind hasn’t been embedded with the false sense of privilege that says, ‘I chose to believe this, therefore, you can’t commit offensive acts.
In the UK a 15-year-old girl has been arrested because of a video supposedly showing her burning a Quran. The West Midlands girl posted the video on Facebook and it appears that her entire account has been removed, not just the video. So what’s the excuse for arresting her, if she’s accused of nothing more than burning a book and posting a video of it? What crime has been committed?
I’m sure the police will think up something in order to appease the demands of theocrats who can’t stand the thought of a secular state where people are free to ignore their religious dogmas. It looks like they will use the “inciting religious hatred” excuse, which is interesting if the video shows nothing more than a burning book.
Speaking about the latest incident in the Birmingham area, a spokesperson for West Midlands police said: “A 15-year-old girl was arrested on Friday 19 November on suspicion of inciting religious hatred. She has been bailed pending further enquiries.
“A second 14-year-old boy was arrested on Tuesday 23 November on suspicion of making threats over Facebook. He has also been bailed pending further enquiries.
It’s instructive, I think, that the act of burning a book is being reported alongside the making of threats. The two aren’t even remotely comparable, but treating them side-by-side as similar criminal acts helps establish in the public’s mind the idea that there is something inherently dangerous and reprehensible about burning some paper.
You know what else is “offensive” in terms of how one might treat the Quran? Putting it on the floor. Putting other objects on it. The Quran is so sacred that it must be handled and stored as reverently as possible. What this means is that if burning a Quran is a crime because it is offensive to Muslims, then so must be putting a Quran on the floor or stacking other books on top of the Quran.
So when will the police start arresting people for those acts?
Catherine Heseltine, chief executive officer of the Muslim public affairs committee, said burning the Qur’an was one of the most offensive acts to Muslims she could imagine.
“The Qur’an is the most sacred thing to over a billion Muslims worldwide. You can see that in the way Muslims treat the Qur’an, washing before touching it, and in many Muslim homes you will find it on the top shelf above all other books, and we will never destroy the Qur’anic texts.”
“We believe it is the word of God. God’s guidance for us in this life,” she added.
Catherine Heseltine has a very poor imagination if she can’t think of things that are worse and more offensive than burning a book — acts like torture, beheading, throwing acid in a person’s face, killing people for daring to love and marry someone of the wrong religion, killing a person for daring to change their religion, etc.
Then again, maybe it’s not so much that Catherine Heseltine lacks basic moral imagination, but that so many religious believers lack a functioning moral compass. What else can be concluded when people demand the arrest and punishment of a person who burns a book, but not of people who kill others?
Even if we grant that burning a book is supremely offensive to Muslims… how does that constitute a reason to criminalize the act? Since when do we criminalize something merely because it offends? Yes, they believe that it is the “word of God,” but so what? Others don’t and others are not under any obligation, legal or moral, to treat the Quran as reverently as Muslims do. If Catherine Heseltine, doesn’t want to burn a Quran then she doesn’t have to and no one should force her to.
Is it really asking too much to expect her to show the same respect to others and not try to force them to not burn a Quran? You can’t have one freedom without the other.