Three Israeli Arab MKs have reintroduced legislation that would more rigorously define a racist offense and would ban the publication of materials that disparage the Prophet Muhammad, Israel Hayom reports.
Current Israeli law states that a person whose actions are “crudely offensive” towards a religion and its believers is liable to a one-year prison sentence. The new bill, which is an amendment to the Israeli penal code, would remove the word “crudely” and more strictly define such instances where punishment is applicable, such as the drawing of the Prophet Muhammad.
The bill also makes it illegal to denigrate Moses, Jesus and various religious scriptures.
“The publication of a cartoon that depicts the Prophet Muhammad is highly insulting towards Muslim believers as Islamic law forbids any attempt to draw the prophet or try to portray the image of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,” Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur, who is one of the three sponsors of the bill, writes in the bill’s preamble.
“There has recently been a noticeable increase in the attempts to hurt members of various faiths, whether directly or indirectly, including Muslims,” he explains, claiming that the attacks have been in the form of direct slurs and other “acts that cast a negative light on Islamic symbols.”
According to Israel Hayom, Sarsur believes his bill would strengthen interfaith relations and address the need to “preserve the foundations of our religions and keep the honor of all faiths and cultures.”
Late last year, Sarsur made headlines when he visited a terrorist held in an Israeli prison. “The Chairman of one of Israel’s largest Arab political parties, United Arab List, met […] with the man who orchestrated the 2002 suicide bombing of a Passover seder at a hotel in Netanya that killed 35 people,” reported The Algemeiner at the time.
Sarsur is no stranger to controversy. In 2011 he praised Hezbollah for defeating Israel in the 2006 Lebanon war and encouraged the terrorist organization to continue with its efforts.