28 September 2010

Muslims call for the defense of free speech. . .

On Sept 28, 2010 the American Muslim posted the following statement on the necessity of free speech rights in a liberal democracy.  Go to the link to read the rather impressive list of signatories to this statement.  

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.  [Evidence?  The MSM is twisting itself into pretzels protecting the identity of alleged terrorists.  FBI Hate Crime stats indicate that reported anti-Muslim violence has dropped from 13% of all violence motivated by religious bias in 2004 to 7.5% in 2008.  Violence against Jews remains relatively steady btw 65-69% in the same period.  "Sentiment" is entirely subjective and not quantifiable.]

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).

[Mainstream Muslim groups need to launch a comprehensive campaign to educate Americans on the basic moral principles of Islam.  Though all decent, free-thinking individuals can agree with the above listing of moral precepts, there is plenty of evidence that Islam is intolerant and violent by design.  If this is not the case, mainstream Muslims are obligated to publicly combat this misconception and rebuke elements in their faith who are distorting the truth.  The Church has been consistent in condemning Christian violence, e.g. the murder of abortion doctors.  Do we see the same sort of condemnations coming from the Muslim world?]

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.  [Bravo!]

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. [A fundamental human right routinely denied to religious minorities in predominately Muslim countries--all the more reason for these basic rights to be vigorously enforced in western democracies.]

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.

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  1. Truly delightful to see this. I don't know what sort of impact it will make, but we've been waiting nigh of 9 years to see a statement of this sort.

    Superb commentary, Father.

  2. maryclare10:16 AM

    Dear Fr P,
    When it is extended to christians in western countries I might take notice...it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a christian in th UK even, but muslims are able to speak out without fear of reprisal. We on the other hand risk reproach or even dismissal from jobs for celebrating Christian festivals...the powers that be took a dim view of my religious christmas cards for example last year, and they are almost unobtainable in mainstream card shops.
    When all of Islam stops threatening to kill us dimmies then I will take notice.
    Regards maryclare :-)

  3. Peronally I think they don't speak out against the fringe simply because they KNOW how dangerous they are!!