We mustn’t allow Muslims in public life to be silenced

Mehdi Hasan in The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_01 Jul. 11 10.26Have you ever been called an Islamist? How about a jihadist or a terrorist? Extremist, maybe? Welcome to my world. It's pretty depressing. Every morning, I take a deep breath and then go online to discover what new insult or smear has been thrown in my direction. Whether it's tweets, blogposts or comment threads, the abuse is as relentless as it is vicious.

You might think I'd have become used to it by now. Well, I haven't. When I started writing for a living, I never imagined I'd be the victim of such personal, such Islamophobic, attacks, on a near-daily basis. On joining the New Statesman in 2009, I was promptly subjected to an online smear campaign, involving a series of selectively edited videos of speeches I'd delivered in front of groups of Muslim university students several years ago. I was accused of being a “secret” member of the extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, and a “dangerous Muslim shithead” in the “same genre” as the Nazis. The post that sticks in my mind is from the blogger who referred to me as a “moderate cockroach” whose Islamic faith was “no different from the Islam of Abu Hamza, Abu Qatada, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Anjem Choudary or any of the 'tiny minority' of Islamic terrorists who believe that Islam must dominate, no matter what the cost”.

Three years later, as I leave the New Statesman to join the Huffington Post UK, little seems to have changed. “Huffington Post's new UK political director brings pro-Iran baggage,” screamed the headline on the Fox News website back in late May. My “baggage”? I once publicly praised a fatwa from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, forbidding the production of nuclear weapons. Shame on me! Another ultra-conservative US news website, the Washington Free Beacon, referred to me as the “HuffPo's house jihadi”.

More here.