Breaking news: Criticizing Islam amounts to national security risk!

In December last year, the Spanish government revoked my refugee status for producing the film, "The Innocent Prophet", declaring me a national security threat. Since then, the government is trying hard to deport me to an Islamic country, where I face death for criticizing Islam.

What was my fault? It was nothing but expressing my opinion on the life of Prophet Muhammad in a manner anyone can express his/her opinion on Jesus Christ’s life. Living in a free country of Europe, I simply exercised the most treasured right and value of this society, which is the freedom of expression. But obviously fearing violent reaction from Muslims to my film, the Spanish government withdrew my right to freedom of expression, and revoked my refugee status, putting me on the cusp of deportation from Spain. All of these were done only to send a message to the Muslims of Spain and worldwide that the western world is extremely fearful of their violent actions. Revocation of my status was nothing but telling the Muslim world that their violent way of burning western embassies and interests, and killing and destructions work.

I had appealed in the Spanish High Court against the government’s decision to revoke my refugee status and potentially to deport me to an Islamic country. Today I received a notification from my lawyer that the appeal has been rejected. The unfortunate part of High Court’s decision is that it has not proven my involvement in a crime against the state or violation of the Spanish law. The court has simply ignored several points which I presented in my defence, such as:

I was granted asylum primarily because of my criticism of Islam. So why my refugee status is now being revoked for criticizing Islam, which I have been doing for past 8 years? Even my petition to ban the Quran was admitted by the Spanish parliament.

I always properly informed the government about all my activities regarding Islam and I was never stopped. I had even made them aware of my production of the film and had asked them for an appointment to show them the film before releasing it. But there was no response from their side. Yet, just after the release of the film, they revoked my status and declared me a national security threat. Why didn’t they stop me before? Were they just waiting that I produce the film so that they can revoke my status? Were they just looking for an excuse to deport me?

Muslim organizations in Spain had also lodged a legal compliant against me concerning my production of the movie, which supposedly offended the religious feelings of Muslim. A Madrid court duly heard the complaint and didn’t find me guilty of committing any crime, and I was acquitted.

If criticizing Islam is that serious a crime in the eyes of the Spanish government, then why no action was taken against "El Mundo, El Pais & El Periodico de Cataluña", which reprinted Jyllands Posten cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in year 2005, which aroused worldwide protest and violence by Muslims, including attacks on western embassies. I had also cited several court cases, where Spanish citizens had gravely insulted Jesus Christ, but they were readily acquitted on the ground that they simply exercised their right to freedom of expression.

Here we can see the obvious discrimination. If someone criticizes Jesus Christ, the revered religious icon of the large majority of Spanish citizens, it is deemed as the critic’s right to freedom of expression, but if I criticize the revered icon of Islam, that becomes a national security threat. Furthermore, when newspapers publish extremely offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, no actions are taken against those papers, but when I make a movie on Prophet Muhammad’s life, I become a national security risk, and my residency status in Spain is revoked immediately. In sum, criticism of Islam and Christianity are treated differently by the Spanish judiciary, and the same applies to criticism of Islam by foreigners and Spanish citizens. Does the constitution of Spain allow such discrimination?

In rejecting my appeal, the High Court judges said that my activities on Islam are of extreme sensitivity and indignation, and my film and articles on Islam provoke Muslims. But the question is: Are debates on Islam a crime? Why Islam is treated as an exception, when other religions can be freely criticized in Spain? Does the Spanish judiciary mandate that we stop criticizing Islam, just because Muslims may unleash violence and burn our embassies?

It was not quite unexpected that the Spanish High Court would toe the line of the government and reject my appeal. I am now going to lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court also rejects my appeal without holding me accountable to committing a particular crime under the Spanish Law, I will next go to the European Court of Human Rights. I will exhaust all avenues to seek justice against the Spanish government’s unjust action against me, which endangers my life – just for the sake of appeasing violent Muslims. Most of all, I will continue fighting for ensuring that anybody can exercise his/her constitutional right to freedom of expression, including the criticism of Islam, in Spain. It is a matter of pride for me to fight for making sure that Islam be not treated as an exception, but be put to critical inquiry like any other religion in Spain.


Imran Firasat

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