Mohammed Shafiq and Maajid Nawaz – who have been at loggerheads over Nawaz’s tweeting of a controversial cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Prophet Isa (as) – have issued a joint statement calling for calm.
The statement came after Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, issued a formal complaint to the Liberal Democrats about Nawaz and backed a petition which has been signed by over 21,000 people urging the Lib Dems to de-select Nawaz as a parliamentary candidate.
Both men are members of the Liberal Democrats and yesterday party leader Nick Clegg defended Nawaz’s right to free speech whilst also urging him to use moderate language.
The joint statement reads:
“We wish to make a statement about the recent concern expressed over issues related to conflicting views on depictions of Prophet Muhammad.
“We recognise that, when it comes to this question, some Muslims of various persuasions may take different views. However, we also recognise that there are many Muslims who have taken offence and we assert that images of the spiritual leaders of all religions should be deemed to be respectful. We also respect the freedom of every member of the Liberal Democrat on either side of this debate who feels offended by tone or language to make representations to the Liberal Democrats as is their democratic right.
“We are both Liberals and support the principle of freedom of speech. But we also understand the importance of respect for others views and of moderation of language. In so far as this second principle of moderate language has been breached in the heat and passion of the current debate, we regret this and call for all those who have differing views to ensure that any debate which continues on this subject should use language and attitudes which conform to Liberal standards of respect and moderation.
“We now call on those on both sides of this argument to return to moderate debate, free of insult and threat and we do so because we believe this is in the interests of our Party, of the wider Muslim community in Britain and of the principles of peace to which Islam is committed.”
Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn
Mohammed Shafiq, Chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation and member of Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats