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Muslims say free speech must be defendedcomment (0)

October 21, 2010

BOSTON — More than 160 North American Muslims from the United States and Canada have issued a “Defense of Free Speech” statement that affirms free speech and condemns those who threaten violence against people who criticize or mock Islam.

The statement follows recent deadly riots in Afghanistan after a small number of American Christians threatened to burn the Quran. Death threats have also been directed against cartoonists who drew the Prophet Muhammad. Crafted by Sheila Musaji, editor at The American Muslim blog, and Shahed Amanullah, editor of AltMuslim.com, the brief statement says violence is more offensive to Islam “than any cartoon, Quran burning or other speech could ever be deemed.” The authors cite 11 verses from the Quran, including one that commands Muslims to “restrain anger and pardon people.”

Signatories range from conservatives to liberals, and include imams, activists, feminists, academics, journalists and officials from North America’s biggest Muslim advocacy groups. “It’s a great statement. The only problem is that nobody knows about it,” said Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. While Muslims have condemned terror before, the statement is the first to focus on free speech.

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