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American Muslims Defend the Freedom of Speech

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I am a signatory to "A Defense of Free Speech by American and Canadian Muslims." This statement was released in response to the threats received by "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" cartoonist Molly Norris. The statement was crafted by Sheila Musaji, editor of The American Muslim, and Shahed Amanullah, editor-in-chief of Altmuslim.

If you are a Canadian or American Muslim (imam, scholar, community leader, journalist, author, writer, or cartoonist) and would like to add your signature, please send an email with your name, title, and organizational affiliation (if any) to tameditor@aol.com.

I have reproduced the text of the statement below:

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:

Prof. Hassan Abbas, Quaid-i-Azam Chair, South Asia Institute, Columbia University

Imam Johari Abdul Malik, Director of Outreach, Dar-Al-Hijrah Islamic Center

Mehnaz M. Afridi, PhD, Adjunct Professor (Judaism, Islam & Genocide Studies), Antioch University

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

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)

Victor Ghalib Begg, Senior Advisor, Chairman Emeritus, Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan

Farah Brelvi, Board of Directors, ACLU-NC

M. Ali Chaudry, PhD, President, Center for Understanding Islam (CUII)

Kamran Cheikh, Activist, Committee member, Muslims for Peace, Justice & Progress (MPJP), researcher for Deen Research Center (DRC)

Robert D. Crane, JD, author of numerous books

Almoonir Dewji, blogger, "That We May Know Each Other"

Lamia El-Sadek, political and human rights activist

Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Mona Eltahawy, journalist

Aziz Enhaili, Political analyst, columnist for Tolerance.ca

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"

Amir Hussain, PhD, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University

Arsalan Iftikhar, author, human rights lawyer, blogger, "The Muslim Guy"

Jeffrey Imm, Director, Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)

Ghazala Irshad, journalist, blogger, "The Floating Lotus"

Nakia Jackson, writer

Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, blogger, "Globalog"

Farah Kinani, journalist, blogger, "Global Voices"

Faisal Kutty, Visiting Asst. Prof. of law, Valparaiso University School of Law and Adjunct Professor of Law, Osgoode Hall Law School (Toronto)

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)

Shelina Merani, community activist, artist, founder of Muslim Presence

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

Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, President Sound Vision

Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)

Muneeb Nasir, President, Olive Tree Foundation, Editor IQRA Canada

Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger, "City of Brass" on Beliefnet.com

M.Waheed-uz-Zaman Rana, Imam, Prof. Emeritus, Dept. of Surgery, Saint Louis University

Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist

Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger, "Religion Dispatches"

Shafi Refai, President, United Muslims of America

Louay Safi, PhD, Common Word Fellow, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Christian Muslim Understanding, Georgetown University

Robert Salaam, blogger, "The American Muslim"

Raquel Evita Saraswati, activist, writer, blogger

Sarah Sayeed, President of One Blue

S. Abdallah Schleifer, Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Journalism & Mass Com, American University in Cairo

Jafar Siddiqui, blogger, "Penjihad"

Prof. Laury Silvers, PhD

Prof. Ibrahim B. Syed, PhD, President of Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., author,

Pamela Taylor, Co-founder Muslims for Progressive Values, Panelist for "On Faith"

Tayyibah Taylor, Editor, "Azizah" Magazine

Dr. Hashim El-Tinay, President, International Peace Quest Institute (IPQI)

Tarik Trad, writer, humorist, photographer, artist and activist

Asma T. Uddin, Attorney, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and editor, "Altmuslimah"

Wahida Valiante, President, Canadian Islamic Congress and Chair of Islamic History Month Canada

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