January 30, 2014
Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the liberal Democrats) has said he will not drop a Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who sparked widespread protests among some Muslims by tweeting a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed. Maajid Nawaz says he has received death threats since posting the image earlier this month, while a petition calling for him to be ditched as Lib Dem candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn in next year’s general election has gathered more than 20,000 signatures, and a rival petition in his defence has more than 7,000.
Mr Clegg told LBC 97.3 radio that he would not personally have tweeted the controversial cartoon of a stick figure of Jesus saying “Hi” to a stick figure called Mo, who replies “How you doin’?”But it is important to show respect to people of all faiths, beliefs and religious persuasions 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.
Mr Nawaz, the co-founder of counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, posted the image after appearing in a BBC television debate about religious tolerance which featured two students wearing it on T-shirts. He said that he was sending out the “bland” cartoon to show that, as a Muslim, he did not feel it was a threat to his faith and to demonstrate that “Muslims are able to see things we don’t like, yet remain calm and pluralist. My intention was not to speak for any Muslim but myself – rather, it was to defend my religion from those who have hijacked it just because they shout the loudest”.
The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nick-clegg-will-not-drop-lib-dem-candidate-maajid-nawaz-who-tweeted-a-cartoon-of-the-prophet-mohammed-and-jesusclegg-will-not-drop-lib-dem-candidate-9095691.html