Mehdi Hasan challenges the bigots, fanatics and reactionaries of the Islamic world

Fair’s fair. I looked around for more by Mehdi Hasan, and found a piece he did for Huffington Post UK last August, telling off the “blasphemy” laws in Pakistan. It’s much more liberal than what he’s been saying on Twitter for the past three days.

I, for one, am fed up with politicians, mullahs and mobs using my religion to further their own vicious and sectarian agendas. So here’s my own very simple message to the bigots, fanatics and reactionaries of the Islamic world: whatever intellectual or theological disagreements we may have with them, the fact is that Christians (and, for that matter, Jews) are our brethren; the Quran respectfully refers to them as the “People of the Book“.  Nor should we extend our tolerance, compassion and solidarity only to members of Abrahamic faiths while demonising and discriminating against everyone else. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists – all of them are also our brethren. Don’t believe me? Listen to the verdict of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, the great Muslim caliph and son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad: “Remember that people are of two kinds; they are either your brothers in religion or your brothers in mankind.”

The imprisonment of this Christian child isn’t only about Pakistan or Pakistanis. Those of us who claim to be members of a global Muslim ummah cannot be silent when such flagrant human-rights abuses are committed in the name of Islam and in the world’s second-biggest Muslim-majority nation. Denial is not an option, nor is turning a blind eye. We have to speak out against hate, intolerance and the bullying of non-Muslim minorities – otherwise we risk becoming complicit in such crimes. “Not in my name” has to be more than just an anti-war slogan.

That’s good. But then why is he so furious with Maryam and the Council of Ex-Muslims and the CEMB forum? And, for that matter, me? I don’t know. But I’m glad to see that article.


  1. Acleron says

    That’s not ‘more liberal’ it is a complete reverse from when he called all atheists ‘cattle’. So has he changed his mind, is he so light-minded he just speaks randomly or does he say one thing to one audience and something else to others?

  2. Asif Ahmed says

    He attacks atheists and ex-muslims all the time.There’s his video of what he really thinks about atheists.In the interest of fairness you should do a blog about that also as well his hypocritical attacks on atheists.You found one of this articles and blogged a blog singing his praises ignoring all his bullying and vilification of atheists.He’s using his position at Huffington Post to indulge in victimhood mongering and to silence all critics of islam.You shouldn’t have Whitewashed all his misdeeds in this manner.

  3. says

    @ 1 – I don’t know. I’m trying to figure it out.

    @ 2 – I wouldn’t call this post “singing his praises”! I’m trying to fill out the picture. This article is part of the picture. And after spending three days fighting with him over his tweets I hardly think I’m ignoring all his bullying and vilification of atheists! I am trying to figure things out.

  4. Asif Ahmed says

    Where’s the blog criticizing him for his bullying and villification of atheists? He throws around islmophobe,bigot at anyone criticizing Islam.He’s a bully,who’s after atheists to shut down any criticiism of Islam.

  5. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    Just makes him a hypocrite.

    Which am I, Mehdi Hasan? Your brother, or worthless cattle? It can’t be both.

  6. AsqJames says


    Ophelia is not obliged to write about what you want her to write about. If you think a particular person’s views or attitudes should be tackled, don’t complain that a particular other person isn’t tackling them unless you’re prepared to yourself.

    On the other hand, it took me about 30 seconds to find the previous posts relating to Mehdi Hasan, if you’re incapable of doing such minimal research before complaining about something, perhaps we’re better off without your contribution?

  7. quixote says

    Ah, but his tolerance is for all those brethren, no? He probably can’t see Maryam as a brother, not even with a telescope.

  8. atheist says

    @Ophelia Benson – April 28, 2013 at 11:27 am (UTC -7)

    @ 2 – I wouldn’t call this post “singing his praises”! I’m trying to fill out the picture. This article is part of the picture. And after spending three days fighting with him over his tweets I hardly think I’m ignoring all his bullying and vilification of atheists! I am trying to figure things out.

    I, for one, am glad to see you’re approaching this in a calm, holistic manner. Thanks.

  9. says

    Hasan appears to be like one of those esoteric objects from particle physics: capable of being in more than one place at the same time

    It strikes me from reading all the Huffpost stuff that there are definite material advantages to being or becoming an Islamic fanatic in a country like Pakistan. It can definitlely bring about social and material advancement.

  10. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Showing this side of his character is doing your FTBully credentials no good at all, Ophelia 🙂

  11. says

    He’s still being horrible on Twitter though – saying Maryam “repeatedly” smeared him by calling him an Islamist – but citing only two examples, both ambiguous. I think she’s saying he’s for Islamism, but not that he is an Islamist himself. If she has said “he is an Islamist,” as clearly as that, he’s failed to produce it.

    He really doesn’t seem to live up to his own ideas as stated in that article.

  12. Your Name's not Bruce? says

    The problem with contradictory stuff in “holy” books is the contradictions. Jews, Christians and Muslims all have nice bits they can quote from them when they want to play nice. They also have really horrible, immoral, horrific stuff to keep down the women/gay/others when needed. Moderates try to sweep the evil, vile stuff under the rug while reactionary bigots forget all the nice stuff so they get to have their gods hate the same people they do. While one would think that you can’t have it both ways, these holy books let both sides recruit a god to justify their side of almost any given cause. Slavery. Capital punishment. Women’s rights. Particle/wave duality can’t hold a candle to this kinda stuff.

  13. says

    My theory on Hasan (and many other liberals who find a surprisingly large amount of time to go after other liberals rather than actually violent radicals) is that it’s easy to fight with people who are willing to talk, and might actually respond. You can criticize Salafist clerics and Khamenei’s crowd all you like, but they aren’t typically very interested in or responsive to discussion; whereas members of Femen might actually come on AJE so you can browbeat them. Functionally, though, it comes off as holding people who could be your allies to a different standard than your real enemies, and wasting valuable time on smaller issues.

  14. Yildirim says

    I think it’s not so difficult to understand why he is “so furious with Maryam and the Council of Ex-Muslims”, besides his religious convictions, it’s his position in the discourse and thus his target audience: proud “cultural” as well as devout Muslims as well of all those – Christians, Agnostics and whatnot – who believe that religion (or in this case Islam) is good apart from those few bad apples that give it a bad name. He tries to convince us that bigotry is “unislamic”, while Maryam and other ex-Muslims are ex-Muslims exactly for the reason that they believe the problem with bigotry is religion and in their case “Islam” in the first place. So while Mehdi Hasan is not an Islamist he is quite the fanatical believer in belief.
    That’s not necessarily a bad thing I reckon, after all we might all agree on provisions concerning the freedom of religion and the necessity for the secular rule of law.

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