Readers of 5Pillarz need to understand that this site is about diversity of opinion and about openly tackling difficult community issues within a safe Islamic setting, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
Before fajr this morning we posted an article by Zafer Iqbal crtiticizing journalist Mehdi Hasan’s speech at the Oxford Union.
A speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy9tNyp03M0) which has been widely praised by Muslims and which we published on our own site a few weeks ago.
Shortly after posting the article I went to sleep only to be greeted by a storm of protest when I woke up.
The article was widely read and shared and the majority of the comments were critical of the arguments used against Hasan and some questioned our editorial judgement for printing the article in the first place. Yet others accused us of “fitna.”
First of all, let me say that I do not personally agree with Zafer’s article. I think most of the arguments are pedantic and do not take into account the fact that Mehdi Hasan only had 10 minutes or so to deliver his speech. That said, I did agree with Zafer’s argument that appearing in such a loaded debate in the first place is problematic.
But my wider point is that 5Pillarz is a website that tries its best to represent all parts of the diverse Muslim community and – like it or not – many people would have agreed with what Zafer Iqbal said.
I do not consider 5Pillarz “my site” although I am the editor of it. It does not represent my opinions. In fact, at least half the stuff that appears on the site I completely disagree with.
But at 5Pillarz we have a tolerance for views that we differ with as long as they do not cross certain red lines – such as racism, hatred and sectarianism etc.
I should also say that I personally know Mehdi Hasan and like him. I believe his intentions are good and that he has done more than most to counter Islamophobia in this country and stick up for Muslims. That said, I disagree with many of his views and tactics and he knows this very well, but our disagreements have always been respectful.
However, Mehdi Hasan is a public figure and therefore what he says should be scrutinised. But we will never allow personal attacks against him (or anyone else) and we don’t believe the article was a personal attack – it was a criticism of what he said.
So please let’s keep a sense of perspective when we read stuff on this site that we may not agree with. This is not The Sun or the Daily Mail, it is not a site which has been set up to demonise Muslims.
Rather it is meant to be a community forum which tackles difficult issues which Muslims are talking about in an Islamic context.
And if anyone fancies writing a decent article supporting Mehdi Hasan then we will be more than happy to publish it!