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