Finally, after over a year of berating by many of us on social media and blogging, Mo Shafiq has apologised for his conduct when Maajid Nawaz tweeted a Jesus and Mo cartoon of the prophet saying “How Ya Doin’?
As I explained at the time in January 2014:
Mo Shafiq of the Ramadan Foundation tweeted that he would ensure the Islamic world would know what Nawaz had done though he stressed he did not want him killed, but meant he wanted to reduce funding for an anti-extremist think tank in the Islamic world. He also used the expression “Ghustaki Rasool these Quilliam people” which means “defamer of the prophet.” Ghustaki Rasool is a crime in Pakistan, where Nawaz has family and travels to, carrying the death penalty (capital punishment has a moratorium, but death for Ghustaki Rasool remains on the statute books). Accused of seeking self-publicity by critics they sure showed Nawaz this would not work by then publicising his name far and wide in the media.
Mo Shafiq told Andrew Neil that Maajid Nawaz needed to be deselected because he risked losing seats for the Liberal Democrats. Yes, Shafiq was using incendiary language that incited death and hatred to someone in the same political party as himself because of political repercussions – not just a desire to defend the prophet. During that interview, Maajid Nawaz could not take part in the discussion as police had warned against due to the death threats he received.
We can all hope Shafiq has learnt not to play these dangerous games in the future – but it was not a one off. Before this in 2013, Shafiq completely misrepresented an article Nawaz had written. Shafiq claimed Nawaz had called for a state ban of the veil – when he had spoken against that.
Before that, Shafiq had led a campaign against Tom Holland which was equally misinformed regarding his documentary on Islam. Writing about these two incidents in November 2013, my conclusion was:
The regulator saw no case to investigate the complaints brought against the documentary. However, claims that Tom Holland was deliberately distorting the evidence to fit a biased narrative played their part in abuse and death threats he received. Honest academic research and inquiry into history met with abuse and hysteria. There at the beginning was Mohammed Shafiq whipping it up.
He is trying to do the same with Nawaz, misrepresenting, taking things out of context.
Mohammed Shafiq needs to be called on that – because it has repercussions for serious debate, let alone the safety of others when motives are questioned and emotions played on with such disregard to personal integrity by the antagonist. Shafiq has himself had a credible death threat; he rightly has the liberty to speak his mind, and a nation that values free speech should protect that.
When he twists and distorts others words and actions in the process he deserves our contempt and resolve not to get away with it.
Now in March 2015 Mo Shafiq apologises to Maajid Nawaz over the cartoon tweets:
The apology follows Shafiq’s appearance on the BBC The Big Questions, where apostasy in Islam was discussed. We need clear articulation that we must live with each other despite having different views and completely condemn any violence, discrimination or prejudice for dissenting opinions on religion or imposing them on others.
Shafiq complained on the show that host Nicky Campbell was organising a witch hunt on certain individuals that come on. The following apology suggests this is more about laying a ghost to rest – that language and conduct that endangers others is never acceptable even in the heat of the moment. That maybe, it should not take over a year, and a public appearance on television, to realise you need to apologise for unacceptable behaviour.
“Let’s forgive and move on” says Maajid Nawaz. Fair enough.
Doubt any of us will forget though.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog