As surely everyone knows, this Friday, April 29th, the UK’s Prince William and Kate Middleton will be married at Westminster Abbey. People around the world will be watching the wedding and participating in the celebration. Not all are happy with the upcoming event. An anti-war and extremist Muslim group in Britain called “Muslims against Crusades” (MAC) made plans to protest the royal wedding and the “English Defense League” (EDL) an ultra-nationalist group said that they would counter-protest.
Last week, MAC applied for a permit to protest outside Westminster Abbey on Friday, warning that if their request was rejected they would turn the day into a “nightmare.” Their request was denied. The group then had plans to protest at another site in Central London. MAC said that it is protesting the atrocities committed by the British military and argues that Prince William’s position as an officer in the British Royal Air Force makes him responsible as well for the actions of the military. Interestingly, MAC canceled their protest plans because they assert that the wedding may be the target of a terrorist attack.
Why is this story important? First, it demonstrates a point I raised in a post last week that extremist behavior produces extremist reactions: a protest by MAC was going to lead to a counter-protest by the EDL. Both groups espouse extreme positions and do not represent either the majority of Muslims or the majority of the British. In fact, the Muslim Council of Britain, the largest umbrella group for Muslims groups in the UK, denounced the MAC’s plans and said, “We believe their action on this national occasion is completely at odds with the ethos of Islam. We remind them of Prophet Muhammad’s blessed worlds, that ‘marriage is indeed half of faith.'”
Second, it is really problematic that a Muslim group would use an event like this to display their position when it will only produce more distrust of Muslims and further foster Islamophobia. Muslims are supposed to be a positive force in a community and should take into consideration how, when, and where they express their concerns. There is more than enough negative attention on Muslims.
Third, if this group knows of information that would endanger anyone, it is their Islamic duty to warn the appropriate authorities. As I have written in past posts, terrorism is condemned in Islam. There are clear rules to war and using an event like the royal wedding to inflict violence is absolutely contrary to the faith.
Just as it is an Islamic duty to stand up to injustice, it is a duty to portray the faith in the best way possible. You can stand up to injustice, follow Islamic rules, and still demonstrate that Muslims are positive members of the society. The Prophet Muhammad is the greatest example of this. A group like MAC makes the challenge of moderate Muslims even greater.
What do you think of the plans to protest the royal wedding? Are there appropriate times and places to protest? Do you think groups like this make the task of moderate Muslims even greater? Please share your thoughts below.