American and Canadian Muslims Leaders Defend Free Speech


There has been much complaining that too few Muslim leaders (imams, writers, academics) have spoken up for free speech in the wake of the various so-called cartoon crises. And much of that complaining, alas, has been justified. Indeed, it was a Danish Muslim leader, Imam Ahmad Abu Laban, who traveled to the Middle East to "raise awareness" of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. While on his incitement tour, Laban showed a few phony drawings of Mohammed as a pig in a (successful) attempt at stoking anger amongst the masses. 

Now an impressive group of Canadian and American Muslims are throwing their lot in with cartoonists and blasphemers like Molly Norris, Flemming Rose, Matt Stone, and Trey Parker. It's slightly qualified (it's unclear, but I hope they don't think the South Park bear costume episode ranks as "reprehensible"), but still—it's impressive list. Check out the signatories here. And here is the cause they are signing on with:

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.