YouTube comedian Waleed Wain, known as Veedu Vidz, is a British ex-Muslim who creates satirical videos on a range of topics primarily focusing on Islam. On September 5 he uploaded a video criticizing the Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman's recent move to make online satire a punishable offense. Mentioning also Pakistani President Imran Khan's call for international blasphemy laws, Wain said that such policies are among the reasons that Islam "as a civilization in its current state could never… be better than the West or even the East, like Japan or South Korea." Wain said that humans thrive because of their ability to think and critique, and that any civilization or religion that punishes thought, expression, and inquiry cannot compete with those that have no limitations on thought or speech. Wain added, "Muslims need to have a very open and honest conversation about where they're going wrong," and should focus on tangible issues that harm people instead of "petty, nonsensical" laws like blasphemy and apostasy laws." He criticized Islamic societies and religion for being insufficiently tolerant of those who disagree, and said that if your god "only loves you when you agree with him, it's not love." Mr. Wain enjoys engaging with his religious and cultural heritage by examining different ideas and religious preachers through parodies and discussion. Mr. Wain describes himself as a libertarian who stands for free speech and individual rights.
Following are excerpts:
British YouTube Comedian Veedu Vidz (Waleed Wain): So recently I went on Twitter or Facebook, and I saw that the Saudi Prince, King, whatever he is, wants to ban any satire and wants to put people in prison for making any jokes or satire in his country, and possibly even death.
This comes not that long after Imran Khan, the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan said that he supports the blasphemy law and wants basically an international blasphemy law where no one should be able to make fun of the Prophet Muhammad.
I honestly think this, along with many other things, is one of the reasons why Islam, or Muslim countries… Islam as a civilization in its current state will never, never ever, be better than the West or even the East, like Japan and South Korea. Never. You have to understand that we are animals. The reason why we are so successful as a species is not because we're very strong. We can't run that fast, we haven't got claws or massive teeth, we're not great at all those things like a tiger, or a whale, or an eagle would be great at. The only reason why we have been able to survive and thrive is because of what we have in here. Our brain. The ability to think, the ability to critique. Now, if you are going to put laws in place in your country, in your civilization, in your religion, that stop you from thinking to your maximum capacity… You can't make fun of this, you can't question that, you can't talk about this person, you can't talk about that person. If you do, you'll be punished, sending out a very clear message to everyone else that this will not be tolerated. Free thought, satire, speech, expression, free open inquiry will not be tolerated. If that's the kind of society that you're going to build, if that's the kind of country, or atmosphere that you're going to build in your country, then guess what, you will never ever be able to compete with people who can think freely. You will never be able to compete with them.
To be great is not simply about a policy here or there, it's your whole vision for the country. It's your whole philosophy, your ideology. Are these a tolerant people, are we a tolerant people, do we have the stomach and the thick enough skin to question ourselves?
Muslims need to have a very open and honest conversation about where they're going wrong. Where they're going wrong is they're focusing on the most superficial and nonsensical things like blasphemy, cartoons, you can't make fun of this, don't insult the Prophet… But they don't want to talk about real things that actually kill people, like the blasphemy law, apostasy law, stoning, the disparity in rights with women and men, the disparity in rights between the majority and religious minorities, the way gay people are treated. They don't want to talk about actual, tangible things that hurt human beings and hold people back from achieving their maximum potential. They don't want to focus on that. They want to focus, unfortunately, on petty, nonsensical rubbish waste-of-time laws like blasphemy laws or apostasy laws, which limit people's free speech and freedom of thought. It's not simply about drawing a cartoon. I can guarantee you, people who leave Islam, it's not because they [say], "Oh, the moment I leave Islam, I can't wait to draw a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad," no! Or, "I can't wait to have a beer." It's because they don't agree with it. Do you have enough tolerance within your society or within your religion for someone to openly say: "I don't agree with your religion. In fact, I don't even like your religion. " Is there space in Pakistan for ex-Muslim Pakistanis, or a space in Saudi [Arabia] for ex-Muslim Saudis? Do you have it within you… Peace, tolerance, love, merciful, oh, the Prophet this, the Prophet that, God is mercy, oh, He loves you so much, more than your mom, more than… He loves you when you agree with him. He only loves you when you agree with him. That's not love.