09/18/2012 12:23 EDT | Updated 11/18/2012 05:12 EST

The "Innoncence of Muslims" Promotes Hate, Not Dialogue

Canadians who value tolerance, respect and harmony should not listen to the voices of people like Chris Selley of the National Post who wrote that the media should show clips of the anti-Islam film behind the outrage if it offends people or not.

It should also ignore Ron Banerjee of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy who recently made it clear that he will screen the anti-Islam film in spite of criticism from his own community.

Instead, Canadians should listen to balanced voices that bring people together at a time when hatred is taking its toll on humanity.

A Canadian Hindu group is wrong to air the vile film that triggered a Muslim backlash, wrote the Toronto Star in an editorial.

The Star went further by saying that Banerjee's claim holds no water: "This is sheer provocation, cynically dressed up as something prettier. It risks bringing to our own doorstep what until now has been an ugly foreign controversy."

Why on earth, then, would anyone go out of their way to screen this obnoxious product here, unless it is to inflict further hurt on Muslims and inflame more anger?

Deepak Obhrai, the Conservative Calgary MP, called on Ron Banerjee of Canadian Hindu Advocacy not to screen the film that promotes an anti-Islam message. Obhrai, who is of the Hindu faith, said screening this film goes against core Canadian values of tolerance and respect of other faiths. Islam is one of the world's greatest religions which is practiced by thousands on Canadians: "This is not about freedom of speech, it is about sowing the seeds of intolerance. I therefore urge Mr. Banerjee not to become an advocate of intolerance."

A prominent Hindu leader also denounced the decision to show an anti-Muslim movie: "I can see no reason for showing the film in light of what is happening across the world," said Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, president of the Canadian Hindu Federation and a pandit at Ram Mandir, a Hindu temple in Mississauga.

Those who are portraying themselves as advocates of freedom of expression are hypocrites in the highest order.

They know well that freedom of expression has limits. You cannot go wild to slander and defame others.

The reasoning of Selley and others doesn't stand on a solid ground.

What would be their reaction if an anti-Semite questions the holocaust?

Would the so-called "advocates of unlimited freedom of expression" like Selley and the National Post have extended the freedom to these hate-mongers and allowed the feelings of Jews who have lost loved ones to be hurt?

Why would they then allow the slander of Prophet Mohammad and hurt the feelings of 1.3 billion Muslims.

Why bring freedom of speech in one point and not in another?

Debate is one thing, slander and hate is another.

Muslims do not shy away from debating issues.

"Many people are under the impression that Muslims are close-minded and unwilling to engage in discussion with people of other faiths," wrote Christine Huda Dodge, the author of The Everything Understanding Islam Book. "Nothing could be further from the truth. The Qur'an offers very clear guidelines and encouragement for Muslims to engage in interfaith dialogue."

The Qur'an itself calls the believers to invite the people of the book to dialogue. Muslims are encouraged to engage in respectful dialogue with People of the Book and those of other religions. "And do not dispute with the People of the Book, except in ways that are best" (Qur'an 29:46).

There have been many Muslim scholars who were involved in dialogues with representatives of other faiths. Late Ahmed Deedat is one example who is widely respected for his debates with Christian and Jewish intellectuals in his home country of South Africa, Europe, U.S., and other parts of the world.

There are intellectuals such as professor Jamal Badawi of Halifax, Shabir Ali of Toronto, Dr. Zakir Naik of India who have also have conducted debates and their work are widely available.

Tolerance is more than a virtue in a city as diverse as Toronto; it's a civic necessity, as the Toronto Star put it.

The community ought to push back against those who would divide us. The best answer to this provocation would be to have the film air to a theatre full of empty seats.