In order to defend democracy, limits of freedom of speech should be first specified, the author Iqbāl Barakah says.
She fiercely criticizes the recent statements made by the Austrian politician Susanne Winter, in which she attacked Islam and insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
During her electoral campaign for the Graz city council, Mrs. Winter, a lawyer and member of the right-wing the Austrian Freedom Party [FPO, see: www.fpoe.at], has described the prophet as ‘a child abuser,’ saying that he married a six-year-old, ‘Ā’ishah.
She has also warned that Austria faces an “Islamic immigration tsunami” that will make half of the population Muslim within the next two decades. The extremist politician’s smiling face appears on campaign placards accompanied by the slogans: “No place for radical Islam among us” and “she hits the nail on the head.”
Her action has sparked a storm of reactions from over Muslims of the world, and Muslims have started to send her threatening messages to kill her and all of her family members, similar messages have also been posted on Islamic Web sites. However, none of the responses tried to correct her distorted knowledge about Islam, Barakah said.
She explains that the prophet married ‘Ā’ishah when she was nine years old, not six, at her family’s request. Some Islamic history books affirm that her mother wanted to associate the family with the prophet. “She is of your family,” the mother told the prophet while placing the little girl on his lap.
The author adds that the prophet refused to have actual intercourse with her until maturity at the age of 16. Barakah refers to Islamic thinker ‘Abd al-Sabūr Shāhīn’s book ‘Ummhāt al-Mu’minīn’ [Mothers of the Faithful], in which he mentions that ‘Ā’ishah had previously been engaged to Jubayr Bin ‘Udayy before her engagement to the prophet, which indicates that it was normal at that time for girls to marry at such an early age.
The author adds that it is unfair to judge someone based on current standards fourteen centuries after the event.