My first impulse was to join this declaration, organized by The American Muslim magazine, as a signatory. Then I realized that oops, I’m not Muslim. So am running it in full here instead.
The background story: Molly Norris is the Seattle cartoonist forced to “go ghost” (in FBI parlance) after protesting threats against ‘South Park’ creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker for their gentle ribbing of the ban on depictions of Muhammad (which, incidentally, is far from universal in Islam). Her protest took the form of declaring an ‘Everyone Draw Muhammad Day’ — a really dumb idea, as she quickly realized, since it only invited hatemongers to ratchet up the rhetoric, and led to threats on her life from Muslim fundamentalists.
But the penalty for dumbness is neither death nor exile. And as this declaration clearly states, death threats against those who insult Islam are, in fact, anti-Islamic:
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.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, PhD, Director, Minaret of Freedom Foundation
Prof. Akbar S. Ahmed, PhD, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University
Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. University of North Florida
Barbara Al-Bayati, Co-Founder, Orphan Whispers
Wajahat Ali, playwright, journalist, and producer of “Domestic Crusaders”
Sumbul Ali-Karamali, JD, LLM (Islamic Law), author of “The Muslim Next Door”
Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
Aref Assaf, PhD, President, American Arab Forum
Hazami Barmada, Pres, American Muslim Interactive Network (AMIN)
Farah Brelvi, Board of Directors, ACLU-NC
M. Ali Chaudry, PhD, President, Center for Understanding Islam (CUII)
Robert D. Crane, JD
Almoonir Dewji, blogger – “That We May Know Each Other”
Lamia El-Sadek, political and human rights activitist
Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
Mona Eltahawy, journalist
Prof. Mohammad Fadel, PhD
Fatemeh Fakhraie, Editor-in-Chief, Muslimah Media Watch
Mike Ghouse, President, World Muslim Congress
Iftekhar Hai, President, UMA Interfaith Alliance
Hesham Hassaballa, M.D., author, journalist, blogger – “God, faith, and a pen”
Arsalan Iftikhar, author, human rights lawyer, blogger – “The Muslim Guy”
Jeffrey Imm, Director, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)
Nakia Jackson, writer
Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, Blogger – “Globalog”
M. Junaid Levesque-Alam, writer, blogger – “Crossing the Crescent”
David Liepert, M.D., blogger and author of “Muslim, Christian AND Jew”
Radwan A. Masmoudi, PhD, President, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID)
Melody Moezzi, JD, MPH, writer and attorney
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, author of many books of poetry
Ebrahim Moosa, Assoc. Professor of Islamic Studies, Dept. of Religion, Duke University
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)
Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger – “City of Brass” on Beliefnet.com
Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist
Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger – “Religion Dispatches”
Robert Salaam, blogger – “The American Muslim”
Raquel Evita Saraswati, activist, writer, blogger
Sarah Sayeed, President of One Blue
Jafar Siddiqui, blogger – “Penjihad”
Prof. Laury Silvers, PhD
Pamela Taylor, Co-founder Muslims for Progressive Values, Panelist for On Faith
Tayyibah Taylor, Editor, Azizah Magazine
Tarik Trad, writer, humorist, photographer, artist and activist
Asma T. Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Editor, Altmuslimah
Amina Wadud, PhD, consultant on Islam and gender, visiting scholar Starr King School for the Ministry
Svend White, blogger – “Akram’s Razor”, activist, writer
G. Willow Wilson, author of “Butterfly Mosque” and “Air” graphic novel series
NOTE: If you would like to add your signature, please send an email with your name, title, and organizational affiliation (if any) to firstname.lastname@example.org.