A DEFENSE OF FREE SPEECH BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSLIMS
The American Muslim, September 21, 2010
We, the undersigned, unconditionally condemn any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.
We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation.
We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims. We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.
We affirm the right of free speech for Molly Norris, Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and all others including ourselves.
As Muslims, we must set an example of justice, patience, tolerance, respect, and forgiveness.
The Qur’an enjoins Muslims to:
* bear witness to Islam through our good example (2:143);
* restrain anger and pardon people (3:133-134 and 24:22);
* remain patient in adversity (3186);
* stand firmly for justice (4:135);
* not let the hatred of others swerve us from justice (5:8);
* respect the sanctity of life (5:32);
* turn away from those who mock Islam (6:68 and 28:55);
* hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant (7:199);
* restrain ourselves from rash responses (16:125-128);
* pass by worthless talk with dignity (25:72); and
* repel evil with what is better (41:34).
Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of both hateful speech and hateful acts, but always within the boundaries of the law. It is of the utmost importance that we react, not out of reflexive emotion, but with dignity and intelligence, in accordance with both our religious precepts and the laws of our country.
We uphold the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Both protect freedom of religion and speech, because both protections are fundamental to defending minorities from the whims of the majority.
We therefore call on all Muslims in the United States, Canada and abroad to refrain from violence. We should see the challenges we face today as an opportunity to sideline the voices of hate—not reward them with further attention—by engaging our communities in constructive dialogue about the true principles of Islam, and the true principles of democracy, both of which stress the importance of freedom of religion and tolerance.
Prof. Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Chair, South Asia Institute, Columbia University
Anisa Abd el Fattah, Founder and Chairwoman, National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW)
Khaled M Abdel-Hamid, MD, PhD, writer
Ammar Abdulhamid, Executive Director, Tharwa Foundation
Imam Johari Abdul Malik, Director of Outreach, Dar-Al-Hijrah Islamic Center
Mehnaz M. Afridi, PhD, Adjunct Professor (Judaism, Islam, and Genocide Studies) Antioch University
Asma Afsaruddin, PhD, Professor of Islamic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, PhD, Director, Minaret of Freedom Foundation
Ahrar Ahmad, PhD, Professor of Political Science, Black Hills State University
Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed, PhD, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
Osman Ahmed,PhD, President Islamic Society of Essex County, Newark, NJ
Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. Univ. of North Florida
Barbara Al-Bayati, Co-Founder, Orphan Whispers
Aman Ali, writer, stand-up-comedian
Javed Ali, founder and publisher, Illume magazine
Wajahat Ali, playwright, journalist, and producer of “Domestic Crusaders”
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), author of “The Muslim Next Door”
Shaykh al-Hajj Dawud Ahmad al-Amriki, Director, Muslim America
Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
Patricia Anton, Board member, Muslim Peace Fellowship
M. Saud Anwar, Co-Chair, American Muslim Peace Initiative
For complete list of signatories - updated daily - click HERE.
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