Saturday, September 25, 2010


(This was written in response to a hugely ignorant comment left here a few days ago.)

By Littlefish

It is important to separate the real issue here. The issue is not about whether or not drawing various religious icons is acceptable or not, the issue is: is it OK to threaten people with death? A religious Icon is important to someone who practices that religion. If one does not practice that religion, the icon is just an image. Whether it is offensive or not is a personal decision.

That is why government is not supposed to interject into religious issues, because it is individual and personal. Death threats, however, are exactly what government is supposed to concern itself with! It is a horrible state of affairs that a US citizen, exercising her right to free speech and working her craft as she is allowed to do, is told by her own government that she needs to go into hiding because they can’t protect her from some criminal that is threatening her life. How about going after the Criminal? The issue is FREE SPEECH. Please see below, I have copied a letter from The American Muslim along with the many signatories of the letter. Clear thinking people agree, this is not a Christian vs. Muslim issue. It is a human rights issue.


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)
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 & 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
Osman Ahmed,PhD, President Islamic Society of Essex County, Newark, NJ
Prof. Parvez Ahmed, PhD, Fulbright Scholar & Assoc. Prof. University 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”
Salam al-Marayati, Pres., Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
Shahed Amanullah, Editor-in-Chief, Altmuslim
M. Saud Anwar, Co-Chair, American Muslim Peace Initiative 
Abdul Cader Asmal MD, PhD, Past President, Islamic Council of Mew England 
Aref Assaf, PhD, President, American Arab Forum
Hussam Ayloush, Exec. Director, CAIR Greater Los Angeles Area
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
Arsalan Bukhari, Executive Director, CAIR-WA 
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
Prof Golam Dastagir, PhD, Visiting Research Scholar, New College, University of Toronto, Canada
Almoonir Dewji, blogger - “That We May Know Each Other” 
Mustafa Stefan Dill, blogger;/PR/social media analyst for Muslim issues; musician 
Lamia El-Sadek, political and human rights activitist
Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach for the Islamic Society of N America (ISNA)
Mona Eltahawy, journalist
Aziz Enhaili, Political analyst, columnist for
Prof. Mohammad Fadel, PhD
Fatemeh Fakhraie, Editor-in-Chief, Muslimah Media Watch
Mike Ghouse, President, World Muslim Congress 
Iftekhar Hai, President, UMA Interfaith Alliance 
Rabia Terri Harris, Coordinator, Muslim Peace Fellowship 
Hesham Hassaballa, M.D., author, journalist, blogger - “God, faith, and a pen”
Amir Hussain, PhD, Professor of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymound University
Iftekhar Hussain, Chair, Board of Directors, CAIR-PA
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 
M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD, President, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Safi Kaskas, President & CEO Strategic Edge 
Prof. Muqtedar Khan, PhD, author of several books, Blogger - “Globalog”
Farah Kinani, Journalist, blogger - “Global Voices”
Shaikh Ahmad Kutty, Resident Senior Scholar, Islamic Institute of Toronto 
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) 
Melissa Matos, President, Al-Ghazali Legal Society, Saint Louis University
Shelina Merani, community activist, artist, blogger “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
Lt. Col. Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, U.S. Army Chaplain 
Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, President Sound Vision 
Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim (TAM)
Muneeb Nasir, President, Olive Tree Foundation, Editor IQRA Canada
Q. Amin Nathari, National Representative, Islam in America Movement (IAM)
Aziz H. Poonawalla, PhD, scientist and blogger - “City of Brass” on Beliefnet
M.Waheed-uz-Zaman Rana, Imam, Prof. Emeritus, Dept. of Surgery, Saint Louis University 
Hasan Zillur Rahim, PhD, journalist
Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid, The Circle Group
Prof. Hussein Rashid, PhD, blogger - “Religion Dispatches”
Shafi Refai, President, United Muslims of America 
Muhamed Sacirbey, lawyer, diplomat, writer
Louay Safi, PhD, Common Word Fellow, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Christian Muslim Understanding, Georgetown University
Ghulam Abbas Sajan, Director Islamic Ahlul Bayt Assembly of Canada
Robert Salaam, blogger - “The American Muslim”
Raquel Evita Saraswati, activist, writer, blogger
Sarah Sayeed, President of One Blue 
Sophia Rose Shafi, MA, MTS, doctoral candidate (Islamic Studies), writer
T.O. Shanavas. MD, Vice President, Islamic Research Foundation, author
S. Abdallah Schleifer, Distinguished Prof., Dept. of Journalism & Mass Com, American University Cairo 
Ricka Shorish, M.S., R.N., volunteer/consultant, Avicenna Community Health Center 
Jihad Shoshara, community organizer and activist, Chicago
Jafar Siddiqui, blogger - “Penjihad”
Prof. Laury Silvers, PhD
Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, PhD, Sr. Lecturer, Islamic Studies & African American Religion, University of Florida 
Prof. Ibrahim B. Syed, PhD, President of Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc., author
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, Nat’l Director, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of N America (ISNA)
J.Tayeb, MD, President, CAIR-MI, ISNA founders committee member, Vice chair, HUDA free Clinic, Detroit 
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 
Jason van Boom, Host of “Islam and Authors”, writer 
Amina Wadud, PhD, consultant on Islam and gender, visiting scholar Starr King School for the Ministry
Danya Wellmon, Co-Founder Women Transcending Boundaries interfaith group
Svend White, blogger - “Akram’s Razor”, activist, writer
G. Willow Wilson, author of “Butterfly Mosque” and “Air” graphic novel series 
Ani Zonneveld, President, Muslims for Progressive Values



    The Religion of Peace's running body count.

  2. I've been longing for a response such as this one. Thank you and Littlefish so much for bringing it to our attention. How anyone can equate, as Justice Breyer recently did, political expression with yelling fire in a crowded theater is incomprehensible. Our opprobrium should be directed at those who threaten and carry out bodily and property harm in order to intimidate and control others.

  3. Thank you for copying the letter from The American Muslim. It's good to see recognition of the fact that there are many American Muslims (and, I'm sure other Muslims of other nationalities as well) who condemn violence committed by others in the name of their religion.

    Their letter does not, however, indicate any acceptance by Muslims of speech disrespectful to their religious beliefs. In fact the letter states "Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of both hateful speech and hateful acts, but always within the boundaries of the law."

    I still fail to see any purpose in publishing things that are apparently intended only to insult someone else's religion. I do not deny people the right to do this, but only question their motives. I certainly don't condemn insulted people for being upset about it, although I wholeheartedly agree with you and the signers of the letter that violent responses are wrong.

    Even nonviolent Muslims will be insulted by perceived disrespect toward Mohammed - why continue to insult them unnecessarily in the name of "freedom of speech"? If I don't happen to believe that disrespect to Mohammed is wrong, why should I belittle the people who do? It's a matter of courtesy as much as "free speech". If the purpose of a confrontation like that is to encourage (actually, force) responses like the letter from The American Muslim, fine. We now have that response, and others by Muslims. Now let it be and let's get on with the common goal of controlling the violence. Continuing the insults serves no purpose except, perhaps, to sell newspapers.

    Liberty Belle, violent responses and threats by religious extremists, condemned by the majority of people of their religion, are not certainly restricted to Muslims. You may be too young to remember the furor created in the late 80's by photographer Andres Serrano's photograph entitiled "Piss Christ". Many death threats were made toward him, the people who supported him, and even the galleries who displayed his work. There's a good writeup on this in Wikipedia: There are undoubtedly many other examples of violent responses to perceived religious ridicule.

    And the religious symbol used in this photograph was a crucifix which is not used by all Christian sects, and is even considered "idolatrous" by some.


I believe in free speech, including offensive speech, and especially political speech. Comments that are left on my blog do not necessarily represent my views nor do I necessarily endorse them. I am not responsible for other people's views or comments. That is how the 1st Amendment works.