The Muslim community in Britain and elsewhere expresses its deepest concern with the shocking news from Prague, and offers its support, sympathy and solidarity to the Muslim community in Czech Republic after police raids of their mosques during the main Friday prayers on the 25th of April 2014 .
Mosques were raided by armed police during the only time in the week that the mosques are guaranteed to be full. It has been reported that the armed officers forced the civilian congregation to remain seated for several hours, causing them to miss their obligatory prayers altogether, under threats of being shot by the armed men. A secret video recording also showed the armed men intimidating the congregation, not even allowing them look at the supposed officers walking among them in the prayer areas .
Among those harassed were diplomats from the Indonesian embassy, who attended the Friday prayers. After being detained for 90 minutes by police, the Indonesian authorities condemned the actions of the Czech officials. Representatives of Christian churches and the Jewish community in the country have also spoken out against the raids .
No Freedom of Expression for Muslims Under the Draconian Pretext of “Extremism”
What is perhaps more outrageous is the reported reason behind such a heavy-handed harassment. The police were combing through the entire mosques, to the extent that they were turning copies of the Qur’ān inside-out looking for an alleged ‘extremist’ and ‘racist’ book. What was this book? A Czech translation of The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Dr Bilal Phillips .
The seemingly arbitrary, farfetched interpretation of such a simple, ubiquitous book on basic Islamic beliefs as hate speech and racism is not only clearly ridiculous for anyone who has read the book, but extremely offensive.
The 55-year-old Czech citizen that organised the translation and publishing of the book was arrested and faces charges of “promoting hate speech”, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
An Important Juncture for Czech Republic
We have already seen the actions of individuals and governments in physically harming or discriminating against Muslims in Europe, and enacting Draconian measures against them. This incitement against Muslims in Europe—the vast majority of whom are peaceful, law-abiding citizens of their respective counties—is among the vile consequences of the malicious mistranslation and vilification of basic Islamic beliefs and practises.
We echo the fear of Muneeb Al Rawi, chairman of the Union of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic, “that members of the Muslim minority in the Czech Republic might be endangered.”  We have already seen the anti-Muslim sentiments of France  and Norway  turn into violence against unprotected men, women and children—in extreme cases leading to suicide attempts by the subjugated —and we would hate to see this spread further.
Sheikh Dr Haitham al-Haddad, who visits Prague frequently, commented by saying: “We hope that the Czech authorities are not joining the global war on Islam that Tony Blair called for two days before this horrific incident, in his notorious speech at Bloomberg in London.”
He added, “These attacks are waking up Muslims and uniting them. We hope that the Muslim community in Prague realise that they are going to face different challenges and they should be up to these challenges. They need to be active on different levels and spheres in society.”
British Muslims’ Call
We urge the Czech Republic to look after its minorities and resist succumbing to the sinister rhetoric and frankly ridiculous propaganda of those who seek to disturb the peace in their society, that would paint such a harmless book on basic Islamic monotheism as some kind of modern Mein Kampf.
We also call on the Czech Muslims to remain vigilant against abuses and restrictions of their liberty by the state, while continuing to be upstanding and exemplary members of their wider communities. They must not let such intimidation prevent them from carrying out their cohesive community and outreach work.
This statement was drafted on behalf of a number of Muslim leaders, activists and organisations, and published on Islam21c. Please feel free to cross-post, share and add your comments of support.