Letter to Me From Tim Farron – President of The Liberal Democrats

I wrote an email last Sunday morning to Tim Farron, President of the Liberal Democrats, after briefly talking on twitter. I asked if he would be prepared, as a senior figure in the party to give support to Maajid Nawaz which I could reproduce on this blog. I left as optional, though welcomed, any comment regarding Mo Shafiq’s behaviour.

Here is his reply this morning:

Dear John,

Thank you for your email about Maajid Nawaaz’s tweet containing a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

As a staunch liberal, I stand by Maajid’s right to freedom of speech. However, I completely appreciate the cultural and religious sensitivities which lie at the core of this issue, and which have caused upset within the Muslim community, in the UK and beyond.

I have been made aware of the fact that Maajid’s tweet was his contribution to a live online debate about a recent BBC programme which covered the issue, and his tweet was making the point that as a Muslim he did not regard depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as being offensive.

I stand by Maajid’s assertions that his comments were not intentionally offensive, and that his tweet reflected his genuine personal and religious views. That said, I am mindful that just because you have the right to say something, it doesn’t always mean you should say it.

Maajid has reflected on the language used in his tweets, and has expressed regret for any offense caused in a statement on his Facebook. This is welcome, and I hope this will enable us to all begin to move forward in an amicable fashion.

I am sure you will join me in saying that the death threats which Maajid has received as a result were wholly unacceptable.

I have always, and continue to, urge all Liberal Democrats – whether Parliamentarians, candidates, staff or volunteers – to use moderate language, be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence.

If you would like to discuss these issues further then please do contact me on tim.farron@libdems.org.uk. I get a large volume of emails but I will do my best to respond in as timely a manner as possible.

Yours,

Tim

Tim Farron MP
(Liberal Democrat)

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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2 Comments

Filed under British Politics, British Society, Religion, secular

2 responses to “Letter to Me From Tim Farron – President of The Liberal Democrats

  1. Karen

    ‘ to use moderate language, be sensitive to cultural and religious feelings and to conduct debate without causing gratuitous or unnecessary offence.’

    This seems to be the standard phrase which is appearing in replies regarding this issue. However it is becoming almost impossible to conduct a debate without someone claiming that they have been offended. I am with J S Mill on this one ‘Offence is no harm’.

  2. I think there is plenty of offensive anti-Muslim discourse around (and *sometimes* Islam can be the vector for that. But I’d retweet a Jesus and Mo cartoon without concern, just for fun, and not worry about being perceived as bigoted – and Maajid Nawaz was reproducing it to make a serious point about free speech, and about the range of views within the Muslim community, which should be still less a cause for concern than sharing it casually because it’s funny.

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