UK: Appeal for Expressions of Solidarity with Dr Usama Hasan
A recent hate campaign has been waged against the London-based academic and imam, Dr Usama Hasan. He has been victimised, accused of apostasy and has received death threats for his comments on evolution and the woman's right to choose whether or not to wear hijab. The Board of the Muslim Women’s Network-UK (http://www.mwnuk.co.uk/) strongly condemns the bullying and harassment of Dr Hasan.
Diversity of opinion, ikhtilaf, is a concept that was valued in Muslim societies during classical times; it must continue to play an important part in keeping Muslim societies vibrant and able to respond to people’s changing needs and circumstances. Regardless of opinion, verbal threats are unacceptable and counter-productive.
The freedoms of thought, conscience, religion and expression are also enshrined in British and European law. As a minority, Muslims living in Britain benefit from these rights and cannot, therefore, selectively choose when to respect them and when to reject them. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the content, the right to question must always be defended.
Although the hate campaign has only been supported by a tiny minority of Muslims, the treatment of Dr Hasan impacts everyone in Muslim communities in Britain. A rise in religious extremism has increased both anti-women rhetoric and the numbers of fellow Muslims accused of being outside the fold of Islam for not conforming. Furthermore, it encourages stereotypes about Muslims, which fuel racism.
The Board of the Muslim Women’s Network-UK urges friends from Muslim communities across the world to share in their outrage at the treatment of Dr Usama Hasan and the silencing of healthy debate.
We, the undersigned:
- Express our solidarity with Dr Hasan, his wife and children;
- Strongly condemn efforts to silence debate through fear and violence such as the threats made to Dr Hasan; and
- Strongly support diversity of opinion in our communities since diversity is an essential part of their growth and development.
For further information, please see:
- UN Special Rapporteur in Field of Cultural Rights on the Paris Attacks: “Crime against humanity, crime against culture”
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- Position Statement on Apostasy and Blasphemy
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, Human Rights Council 28th Session
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- Dossier 30-31: The Struggle for Secularism in Europe and North America