‘Insulting the prophet Mohammed is a grievous matter’: Wycombe mayor criticised for Charlie Hebdo comments

Cllr Khalil Ahmed, left, and, right, Cllr Richard Scott
Cllr Khalil Ahmed, left, and, right, Cllr Richard Scott

A council chief has criticised comments made about the Paris terror attacks by a town mayor who said ‘insulting a person’s fundamental beliefs was likely to lead to unrest’.

Cllr Richard Scott, leader of Wycombe District Council, which covers Risborough, Kimble and Terrick, was responding to a statement released by mayor of Wycombe, Khalil Ahmed.

Mr Ahmed said the ‘shocking’ attacks had ‘no place in Islam’ but added: “Although blasphemy was abolished as a criminal offence in 2008 the reason why it had existed (although it only protected Christianity) was because it was designed to ‘safeguard the internal tranquillity’ of the country.

“Insulting a person’s fundamental beliefs was likely to lead to unrest.

“For the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world insulting the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) is a grievous matter.

“I therefore hope that whilst we all join together to condemn the killings and emphasise the fundamental importance to society of freedom of expression that we can also find some space to reflect on the importance of respect for other’s fundamental beliefs and on the benefits to society as a whole and to individual communities of striking the right balance.”

Mr Scott said: “We note the views of the Mayor of High Wycombe, but do not agree with his claim that “Insulting a person’s fundamental beliefs was likely to lead to unrest.”

“The targeting of innocent people was an attack on the principles of freedom of speech and expression, which we strongly condemn.

“On behalf the district, we would like to offer our condolences to everyone who lost loved ones in the shootings.

‘The terrorists who did this were trying to divide our communities, but attacks like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.”

Wycombe Mosque chairman Zafar Iqbal added: “The Muslim community in High Wycombe unequivocally stands against all acts of violent extremism.

“The brutal killing of innocence cannot be justified by any degree.

“This is a time of grieving for everyone.

Mr Ahmed also said in his statement: “The killing of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo is a shocking event and an immense personal tragedy for the families of the journalists, police officers and other members of staff murdered.

“That it appears to be have perpetrated by individuals purporting to act in the name of Islam causes me and the Muslim community in Wycombe and I think around the country great sadness and concern.

“Sadness because Islam is truly a religion of peace and these killings – including of a Muslim police officer – have no place in Islam.

“Concern because it may fuel a developing anti-Islamic campaign which is emerging across Europe.

“That is bad for society and undermines community cohesion which we all want and which makes Wycombe as elsewhere a good, pleasant and safe place to live.”