This is an artile on written by the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi on the Hajj in The Independent newspaper on 24 January 2004
Faith & Reason: What Robert Kilroy-Silk needs now is a trip to Mecca
The real issue is not whether freedom of speech should extend to racists. It is the depth of British ignorance on the true nature of Islam
Saturday 24 January 2004
From next week two million Muslims, male and female, will be making the haj – the pilgrimage to Mecca, and to Prophet’s Mosque at Medina in Saudi Arabia – this year, 20,000 alone from Britain. Muslims are obliged to perform haj at least once in their lifetime, if they are able to do so.
This year British pilgrims depart from a country that has been inflamed to debate by the recent controversy over the remarks by the chat-show host Robert Kilroy-Silk, who has been axed by the BBC for a rant which declared “We owe Arabs nothing” and dismissed an entire people as “suicide bombers, limb amputators, women repressors”.
Much of the row centred on a debate over whether a person has the right to express his opinion without censorship, even if it is racist or Islamophobic – a view which was supported by an alarming number of people in Britain, including newspaper editors and intellectuals (and which shows that the country still has a long way to go in terms of race and community relations). But it uncovered a deeper issue too.
British Muslims will soon be departing for Saudi Arabia, the country of the very people who were the object of Kilroy-Silk’s bigoted remarks. What will they find? A people who, in the BBC presenter’s words, behave with “savagery”, who “behead criminals, stone to death female – only female – adulterers, throw acid in the faces of women who refuse to wear the chador, mutilate the genitals of young girls and ritually abuse animals”?
In fact what the British pilgrims will find is just the opposite. Believers of all colour, race, and nationalities perform haj together so they will meet – pray, sleep, exchange views, make friends, walk, embrace, shake hands, and perform pilgrimage with – the most hospitable people on earth, as I found from my own experience.
See full article here
[Photo: Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Ka’bah, Islam’s holiest site, located in the center of the Masjid al-Haram (Grand Mosque) in Makkah, Saudi Arabia on September 10, 2016. Photographer: Orhan Akkanat/AA]