Tag Archives: Jesus and Mo

Dawkins Endorses Anti-Muslim Twitter Account


Richard Dawkins promotes following @jihadistjoe on twitter. The following screen grabs are from the same day Dawkins endorsed, but just before he tweeted his endorsement.





Jesus and Mo cartoons strike the balance between humour and biting satire by tackling outrages religious ideas and thinking with irreverence. @JihadistJoe however plays on Muslim streotypes, using far right propaganda that all Muslims are a danger to society. Regrettably the cartoons @jihadistjoe uses hark back to the dark days of caricature designed to make bigotry and prejudice acceptable by being regularly seen.

Treating Muslims as extremists or their supporters because they follow Islam is anti-Muslim bigotry. The insidious suggestion is secretly (without being honest or duped) they work to undermine democracy and society. To point out believing this is a crazy conspiracy mindset that goes against everyday experience with Muslims in the UK, is to be met with the suggestion you are a willing dhimmi or a useful idiot.

Secularism is about promoting rights for all as equal citizens. Religion does not have preferential treatment in public space over others, citizens are free to believe or disbelieve without penalty or favour. The state does not control faith, and promotes a pluralistic society where individual rights are paramount. We are truly free to think for ourselves and understand God or the world around us, and form our own moral compass, as law abiding citizens.

People deliberately overlook the contributions against extremism by Muslims who champion secularism. Dismissing the concern secularists have against anti-Muslim bigotry. Just two examples of pluralism and secularism in action: Maajid Nawaz chairman of Quilliam anti-extremist think tank, has recently mean made an honorary associate of the National Secular Society. While atheist Peter Tatchell has become a patron of Tell Mama, the anti-Muslim bigotry charity.

When Richard Dawkins endorsed the account, he accused one person that pointed out how bad the account was of lacking humour and judgment. Yes Richard, humour might be down to personal taste, but if you cannot see what the account is promoting (at odds with secularism) then your own judgment has to be called into question.

We cannot let the extremists define us nor should we side with them. We can stand for human rights without using prejudice and bigotry.

    Update 6 July 2014:

Whilst most people seemed to get that suggesting Muslims “breeding” and having places to worship as part of “Jihadist support team” (the iceberg beneath the surface) are anti Muslim sentiments in line with extreme right wing views on Muslims, a few remain unconvinced or see this as isolated bum notes of an otherwise funny account. Whose aim is to use humour to target hatred at terrorists not Muslims. The other is how dare I be concerned about this account when people are being killed and oppressed in the name of Islam?

We need to fight bigotry and dehumanization of people by anyone.

On that note here are a few more tweets to see the focus is not on terrorism by islamists but Muslims too.

When discussing these things with @jihadistjoe online he said the context was “The Project” by the Muslim Brotherhood. A coordinated effort, to penetrate all levels of society with a “cultural invasion” with the aim “to progressively infiltrate, confront, and eventually establish Islamic domination over the West.” [Link he provided via twitter]

@Jihadistjoe did not explain where he was getting the cartoons from or where they were originally published. He also declined to reply on this blog.

A global conspiracy believer who uses it to justify his use of bigotry against Muslims has been promoted by Richard Dawkins. That saddens me as a fan of his work and as someone that writes about secular issues.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Filed under British Society, Dawkins, Humour, Richard Dawkins, secular

Gordon Birtwistle Illiberal Democrat MP?

You may have thought this story was laid to rest, just as Maajid Nawaz wants as will be mentioned later in post. Step forward Gordon Birtwistle Liberal Democrat MP – who needs just over a 2% swing in the next general Election to lose to Labour. He is one of those Lib Dems that Mo Shafiq fears will lose their seat because of Maajid Nawaz tweeting a bland cartoon of the prophet.

Background regarding Maajid Nawaz posting a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed read here.

Gordon Birtwistle is alleged to have written this letter:


Whilst some have doubted the authenticity of the letter we have this subsequent quote from the MP in a local newspaper:

“I’m in favour of people having free speech, but if they decide that free speech allows them to abuse other people and other communities when they’re a Lib Dem candidate, it then puts me in the same team as them, and I don’t want that person in my team. To me, that’s not acceptable from a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate.”


[Photo credit: Chris Boland]

Now here is the question not answered. Is he referring to posting the cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed or is he referring to swearing at other twitter users by Maajid Nawaz who objected to tweet? Or both?

Because remember swearing was an issue addressed in the joint statement Nawaz and Shafiq made on January 28:

“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. [emphasis added]

5Pillarz website reported that the MP’s letter:

… was responding to a complaint about Nawaz’s tweeting of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Prophet Isa (as) which many Muslims deemed to be offensive.

Maybe I am being overly cautious compared to others on this story. I have been misquoted and taken out of context in local newspapers to make a better story. Birtwistle’s silence on twitter has not helped to clarify directly from him – but I would argue if letter and quote are genuine he is at best behind the curve on events (viz swearing) and at worst illiberal in being against Nawaz’s intended desire for open debate in showing a cartoon of the prophet saying “How ya doin’?

Maajid Nawaz Facebook Apology


On the 13 February Maajid Nawaz made this statement:

    This is a message for my fellow Muslims, among whom an activist-core remains quite angry at recent events.

For the sake of our religion, our communities, for peace and for my Muslim family’s sake, I ask you to consider the below:

1) I reassert my faith as a Muslim. I believe in Allah and His messenger Muhammad (upon him be peace). I also take this opportunity to repent for my faults and ask Allah to forgive me for both my deliberate and unintentional deeds. I have stood by my faith through the most difficult of times, including through Mubarak’s jails, and I intend to stand by it now.

2) I am not against you. Even the Islamists among you, I oppose your ideology as being dangerous to my religion, but I do not oppose you as individual people. Nor do I oppose your right to peacefully express your Islamist ideology. In fact, I have defended that right consistently in the UK and abroad. I simply maintain my right to disagree with such an ideology. I remain one of you – a Muslim – and speak from among you. I am not your enemy and nor do I wish to be. I am also not a “Muslim community representative”, and nor do I wish to be. I speak on my own behalf, and yet address issues that I believe concern us all, for the betterment of us all collectively, from my own perspective and in my humble opinion. I am happy to hear your feedback, and only ask that your views do not contain spamming, violent abuse, Takfir (excommunication) or libelous content.

3) I am clearly not perfect. I have and will continue to make mistakes. For those mistakes I have made in the past I have expressed regret and I say again that – while I continue to defend the compatibility of Islam and liberalism – I am genuinely sorry if in rushing to express my views I have caused some of you hurt, that was absolutely not my intention. [emphasis added]

4) I try my best to be consistent and fair in the views that I advocate, which are essentially guided by my commitment to individual choice (I call it liberalism), democracy and pluralism all through the lens of human rights. Using the human rights framework, I attempt to challenge extremism of all shades. It is for this reason that I have in the past opposed the extra-judicial killing of suspected jihadists, opposed drone strikes, criticised the policy of torture and rendition in the “War on Terror”, opposed the banning of non-terrorist Islamist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK and the execution of Islamist Jamaat members in Bangladesh; it is due this same belief in these principles of human rights that I continue to challenge the Islamist ideology and those who would seem to treat others in a similarly illiberal way if they were in power.

Many accusations that have been levied against the work of my organisation have been grossly exaggerated, and I ask that you read this for reasonable replies to most of them: http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Setting-the-Record-Straight.pdf

5) Finally, I ask you to allow us all, for the sake of our religion and relations in wider society, and for the sake of my Muslim family who are your brothers and sisters too, to move on together from the events of the last two months. I am happy to meet Muslim activists in person and have already started. In coming months I will keep meeting you so that we can arrive at a better understanding together. I bid you all peace and ask you now for your respite, there are so many other important causes out there that need our attention, and Allah is the Most-Forgiving, and Most-Merciful.

I have just received my copy of “Radical” by Nawaz which I look forward to reading as opposed to MPs playing to the gallery against liberal principles.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Nick Clegg Not Dropping Maajid Nawaz As A Candidate


Mr Clegg told LBC 97.3 radio that he would not personally have tweeted the controversial cartoon – which shows a stick figure of Jesus saying “Hi” to a stick figure called Mo, who replies “How you doin’?” – and said it was important to show “respect” to people of all faiths and none when discussing religious matters.

But the Lib Dem leader said: “He is not going to be dropped as a Liberal Democrat candidate. He has the right – as any Muslim, non-Muslim or anyone of any faith or none in this country has – to say things even if that causes offence to other people.

“It so happens that what he did does cause real offence to many, many Muslims in this country. All I would say is that we have to make sure that that debate, sensitive though it is, is conducted in a respectful way in moderate terms.

“I would not have tweeted that thing, clearly. I will defend anyone’s right to deploy the freedom of expression in this country. I’m not going to start censoring people in a free society.” [The Independent]

Checkmate Mo Shafiq? I might make a remark about pigeons playing chess, but I suspect this is more likely the response given he withdrew his name from the joint statement he had issued with Maajid Nawaz …


For though on twitter Mo Shafiq has been quiet about Cleggs comments he said this yesterday:


In short, prepare for a shit storm.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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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.



Tim Farron MP
(Liberal Democrat)

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Mo Shafiq Withdraws Support From Joint Statement – Jesus and Mo Cartoon


In politics sometimes you bury the hatchet, with the principle of collective responsibility. You might disagree behind the scenes with someone or a policy but in public defend the party or Government. What was refreshing about the joint statement that Maajid Nawaz and Mo Shafiq (above) issued via the Liberal Democrats over the Jesus and Mo debate is that it called for the argument to continue, but in a civil discourse:

“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.” [Source]


Maajid Nawaz (above) decided therefore to break his silence, having initially on twitter described his reasons for posting the Jesus and Mo t-shirt, with a Guardian article where he mentioned there is no Muslim hierarchy to impose homogeneity on all Muslims thorough out the world, “Unity in faith is theocracy; unity in politics is fascism.” He refereed to “Muslim conservatives” seeking to have him de selected by means of a petition.

My intention was to demonstrate that Muslims are able to see things we don’t like, yet remain calm and pluralist, and to demonstrate that there are Muslims who care more about the thousands of deaths in Iraq, Pakistan and Syria than we do about what a student is wearing. My intention was to highlight that Muslims can engage in politics without insisting that our own religious values must trump all others’ concerns, and to stand before the mob so that other liberal Muslim voices that are seldom heard, women’s and men’s, could come to the fore. And many such Muslim voices have been heard this last week. [Guardian]

The article caused Mo Shafiq to withdraw his support from the joint statement.


Maybe Mo Shafiq saw in the article himself being criticised, perhaps everything Nawaz stands for religiously and politically is so at odds he does not appreciate being called out on it. He could well be a conservative Muslim – he answered Andrew O’Neils question about not being a liberal with the Liberal Democrats being a broad church.

We also cannot discount an inability to read the moderate, respectful piece for being exactly that – for remember Mo Shafiq claimed that Nawaz had in a Daily Mail article called for the veil to be banned. Something Nawaz stated in the article he was against (covered this here).

Mo Shafiq perhaps hoped that Nawaz would either change his position or at least keep his head down. Instead he came out without recourse to apology or regret because there is a principled liberal stand that Nawaz is making.

Stating that no one gets to judge my faith but my God I believe in, that by my faith I am not answerable to any man for the conscience of my beliefs. That my liberties are by natural law sacrosanct and indisputable, and by threats or intimidation to make me renounce my faith or belief is to break such a covenant that is between me and my God. I will speak as moved by this.

I can understand that passion – it is how I feel about humanism, if you replace faith with non faith and replace God with conscience in the above paragraph. Secularism is better than theocracy because it recognises no state, church or clergy have a hold over a citizen in matters of religion. Democracy that the laws of the land reflect the will of the people rather than the interpretation of religion by a theocratic hierarchy.

Shafiq feels that passion too. The problem is that rather than accepting pluralism and secularism he is insisting that other Muslims feel the same way, and that those that do not adhere to their view may still never ever under any circumstances show an image of The Prophet. Sorry, but this debate is about allowing you the right to be offended by what does not incite violence or hatred.

A cartoon saying “How you doin’ ” does not full into that category. So be offended. Tell us why you are offended. But do not impose your religious views on us who want to see the supposed controversy, or do not feel offended. Free of malice, free of intimidation, regarding a drawn image.

Regrettably Channel 4 News decided to not make that stand, but instead presented this version of the cartoon.


This reminded me of when television news used to say “for those that do not want to know the result look away now” when just about to display the football scores.

Just a thought here.

“For viewers whose God would be displeased at them viewing an image of His Prophet, which may distress you as he asks “How ya doin’, please look away now or forever hold your peace.”

Personally that is why I do not watch certain comedians. I know they will offend me. So I never watch them. It is is called freedom of choice.

The outcry looks set to continue. Theologian Usama Hasan, of the Quilliam Foundation Maajid helped found, being protested today as he attends a Plymouth University event by the Islamic Society event because he has not publicly criticised Nawaz, the saga will continue to run in the country.


Just remember that Mo Shafiq has withdrawn from the joint statement having previously made erroneous claims against both Nawaza and the Jesus and Mo cartoons. Having called Quilliam by a blasphemous term which carries the death penalty in Pakistan. He has now ripped up a statement to have a civil, mature debate.

The toys are well and truly going to be out of the pram once again I fear.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Filed under British Politics, British Society, Religion, secular