- (Photo: Reuters/Parbul TV via Reuters TV)
Russell Brand's defense of Muslims following the beheading of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, England has been controversial among various supporters and critics of the comedian. Though Brand labeled his initial response to the situation as too "glib" considering the public murder, he also insisted that Islam not be blamed for the actions of men who were "severely mentally ill."
Russell Brand first addressed the violent act of the two murderers with a tweet: "That bloke is a nut. A nut who happens to be Muslim. Blaming Muslims for this is like blaming Hitler's moustache for the Holocaust."
Although Brand admitted in a op-ed for The Sun U.K. that his analogy was "imperfect," he claims he wanted to respond to the "negative and incendiary mood" of some Britons after the attack— many were horrified and angry following the seemingly arbitrary decapitation of Rigby and the killer's casual response caught on tape.
"In my view that man's severely mentally ill and has found a convenient conduit for his insanity— in this case the Koran," Brand wrote. "I've read some of the Koran, and nothing … has compelled me to do violence. Perhaps this is because I lack the other necessary ingredients for extreme anti-social behavior— mental illness and isolation, either economic, social or both."
Brand then compared the incident to John Lennon's murder in 1980, which was influenced by novel "Catcher in the Rye." He also compared it to the biblical stance that homosexuality is a sin, saying Christians relied on only a "piddling bit in Leviticus" for the stance the way Islamic extremists relied on certain Qu'ranic verse to justify violence.
However, some disagreed with Brand's statement, saying radical Islam had a significant influence on the two men in the YouTube video.
"Blaming Islamism for what happened to Lee Rigby is sort of like blaming Nazism for the Holocaust. In other words, it's accurate," wrote Ben Shapiro for Breitbart.com. He went on to dismiss the mention of Lennon's murderer's obsession with "Catcher in the Rye" by pointing out that "there isn't an entire movement of would-be murders and murder-sympathizers who claim their authority from Salinger."
Others agreed, highlighting that the viral video of the blood-soaked killer has been edited— the reference the man made to the Koran was cut out for media reports.
"We are forced by the Qur'an in Sura at-Tauba (Chapter 9 of the Koran), through many, many ayah (verses) throughout the Koran that [say] we must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," the maniac said during the video.
"There's a clear agenda among many well-intentioned liberals to ascribe terrorism to any cause other than the foundational texts of religion— social, economic, cultural alienation," Londinium wrote on the Huffington Post U.K. blog. "Yes, these are contributory factors, but don't forget the elephant in the room."
Still, some felt that Brand, who is a comedian, talk show host and movie star, may not be the best person to turn to for guidance after such a tragedy, despite his well-written op-ed.
"Like you, the Sun knows that when a man is hacked to death as a sacrifice to his alleged killers' jihadi god, Russell Brand's view is important," Anorak wrote on his blog.