Yours Faithfully
Dr Hojjat Ramzy, Imam and director of the Oxford Islamic Information Centre

AS A man of peace, I totally disagree with the killing of innocent people.

The majority of Muslims and members of other faiths have condemned the acts carried out at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in January, and made it clear these in no way represent the Islamic faith.

BBC Radio 4 recently did carried out a survey which found 27 per cent of Muslim respondents had some sympathy for the attackers' motivesmotives behind the attack.

While I do not agree with those who sympathise and justify these acts, I realise this may stem from a feeling of having been deeply insulted, hurt and humiliated, since they hold the Prophet of Islam dearer than their own selves.

Indeed, the Qur’an states that “The Prophet is closer to the Muslims than their own selves” (33:6). I myself was deeply insulted by these dreadful cartoons of my Prophet, and deeply hurt that the magazine and other publications chose to feature them.

Charlie Hebdo is an extremist organisation that attempts to damage the roots of faith in general and is inflaming Islamophobia and hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Charlie Hebdo went out of its way to insult the feelings of over a billion Muslims and Catholics by insulting the Prophet and the Pope.

These insensitive, highly offensive acts are uncalled for and irresponsible. Freedom of speech is a great treasure for humanity but has its limitations. I believe fFreedom to insult is not part of itfreedom of speech.

Such insults, and the praise they have received in France, is only encouraging some extreme scholars to justify further violence.

If the Prophet Muhammad were here he would have tolerated the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and responded to insults with peace and dignity, as was his manner. He was sent by God to be a mercy to mankind (Qur’an, 21:107).

Unfortunately, not all humans have these characteristics or this understanding of Islam. With regards toI would strongly question the claim that 46 per cent of Muslims feel Britain is becoming less tolerant of them.

Other recent polls show Muslims are well integrated into society. In the Radio 4 survey 95 per cent of Muslims said they were loyal to Britain. In my experience as a Muslim leader and someone who is involved in many areas of society I estimate at least 80 per cent of non-Muslims trust and respect their Muslim counterparts and vice versa.

A handful of Muslims and non-Muslims harbourve demonstrate extreme views of extreme intolerance, and we must unite in brotherhood and harmony to overcome their any elements of hatred.

The poll also states that 20 per cent of Muslims say Western society can never be compatible with Islam. This reflects no understanding of Islam and Islamic jurisprudence.

Anyone who holds such a view clearly does not understand Islam and Islamic jurisprudence.

The pillars of Islamic law are not the wearing of hijab or having a beard; they are the protection of human life and property and the welfare of society.

Many of the laws governing Britain are far more Islamic than the laws in place in many countries with Muslim majority populations.

The system of social security, for example, the NHS, council housing, respect for women, looking after the elderly, freedom of speech, and the provision of other basic human rights are all intrinsic to the Islamic legal system in its true form.

These are the foundation of Islamic law which, unfortunately, the majority of most Islamic countries have not yet been able to implement.

As such, I believe it would be justified to claim that Britain is more Islamic than many Muslim countries. Therefore, I say British society is highly compatible with Islam. It is the second largest religion in this country anyway and I hope it continues to spread. Islam in its true form is a beautiful way of life.

I pray we can come to live in a society which respects all walks of life, and allows people to live in peace. Amen.