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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A DEFENSE OF FREE SPEECH BY AMERICAN AND CANADIAN MUSLIMS





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.


SIGNATORIES:
  1. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, PhD, Director, Minaret of Freedom Foundation
  2. Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed, PhD, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
  3. Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. University of North Florida
  4. Wajahat Ali, playwright, journalist, and producer of "Domestic Crusaders"
  5. Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), author of "The Muslim Next Door"
  6. Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
  7. Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
  8. Shahid Athar, M.D., Editor, Islam-USA
  9. Hazami Barmada, Pres, American Muslim Interactive Network (AMIN)
  10. M. Ali Chaudry, PhD, President, Center for Understanding Islam (CUII)
  11. Robert D. Crane, JD
  12. Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
  13. Mona Eltahawy, journalist
  14. Prof. Mohammad Fadel, PhD
  15. Hesham Hassaballa, M.D., author, journalist, blogger - "God, faith, and a pen"
  16. Arsalan Iftikhar, author, human rights lawyer, blogger - "The Muslim Guy"
  17. Jeffrey Imm, Director, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)
  18. Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, Blogger - "Globalog"
  19. M. Junaid Levesque-Alam, writer, blogger - "Crossing the Crescent"
  20. David Liepert, M.D., blogger and author of "Muslim, Christian AND Jew"
  21. Radwan A. Masmoudi, PhD, President, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)
  22. Melody Moezzi, JD, MPH, writer and attorney
  23. Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, author of many books of poetry
  24. Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)
  25. Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger - "City of Brass" on Beliefnet.com
  26. Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist
  27. Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger - "Religion Dispatches"
  28. Robert Salaam, blogger - "The American Muslim"
  29. Tayyibah Taylor, Editor, Azizah Magazine
  30. Amina Wadud, PhD, consultant on Islam and gender, visiting scholar Starr King School for the Ministry
  31. G. Willow Wilson, author of "Butterfly Mosque" and "Air" graphic novel series

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