IMSD supports free speech; condemns hate speech, death threats

nupur sharma

Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) deplores the divisive and hate-driven politics behind the statements made by the now-suspended spokesperson of the BJP, Nupur Sharma, but it unequivocally condemns the threats to her life. IMSD also strongly condemns Al Qaeda for threatening retaliatory terror acts.

IMSD believes that democracy is inconceivable without the freedom of speech, a freedom that is enshrined in the Indian Constitution. All healthy democracies however make a clear and principled distinction between the right to free speech and a bar on hate speech that impinges on the right to life and dignity of the marginalised.

The right to free speech includes the right to critical, rational enquiry and healthy criticism of all forms of religious beliefs and practices. In a democratic state, there should be no place for any law on blasphemy as it has a chilling effect on free speech. We therefore categorically oppose the demand by certain Muslim/ Islamist/ Hindu/ Hindutva organizations for a blasphemy law in India.

The right to criticism includes the right to offend, as also the right of those offended to protest in peaceful and lawful ways. But the offended have no right to silence the offender: no god, gods, goddesses, prophets or saints may be invoked to justify the killing of fellow humans. At the same time, IMSD strongly condemns the “bull-dozer raj” in BJP-ruled states, UP especially, where the administration and the police are delivering “instant justice” having assigned to themselves the all-in-one role of judge, jury and executioner. It’s high time the judiciary acted suo motu to call a halt to such mockery of law by the custodians of law.

While fully supporting freedom of expression, IMSD believes that in highly polarised and communally charged societies such as India today is, hate speech must not be confused with free speech. At a Dharam Sansad last December Hindu religious leaders openly called for the genocide of Indian Muslims. International organisations including Genocide Watch have warned that India is on the brink of a genocidal bloodbath. But India’s Prime Minister continues to remain silent on the subject.

The recent United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2022 annual report on India is a case in point. It says: “Religious freedom conditions in India are taking a drastic turn downward, with national and various state governments tolerating widespread harassment and violence against religious minorities.”

The over dozen governments from Muslim-majority countries which have now expressed outrage over the insult to the Prophet have been conspicuous by their total silence in the last eight years, and earlier, despite repeated attacks on Indian Muslims, including the recent call for genocide. IMSD is not the least surprised because these very governments have no respect for human rights and freedom of expression. We demand that these governments mend their ways, promote fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens, in their own countries and across the globe. It is rather rich for these despotic regimes to teach us lessons in secularism and pluralism. But what can one say when our own government has created this unfortunate situation? Clearly the Modi government’s hardline Hindutva brand of politics has undermined India’s international standing and respect among the comity of nations.

We appeal to all sections to maintain peace and religious harmony. We appeal to Muslims in particular, not to get swayed by the rhetoric of Islam in danger. The ongoing protests have already consumed precious lives and going by the past actions of the government, it will deplorably be followed by mass arrests and demolitions. Those howling from the pulpit will escape and the burden of proof, as always, will be on the shoulders of the poor Muslims.

Let us resolve not to listen to anyone who is stoking our fear and insecurity. The Constitution is enough to reclaim our rightful place in the republic.


  1. Abdul Haq (Maulana), Bori
  2. Adnan Siddiqui, Social Activist, Parbhani
  3. Afroz Khan, Social Activist, Bori
  4. Afroz Pathan, Social Activist, Bori
  5. Afzal Shaikh, Parbhani
  6. Akbar Shaikh, Social Activist, ISMYM, Solapur
  7. Akram Shaikh, Teachar, Parbhani
  8. Altaf Shaikh, Parbhani
  9. Altamash, Social Activist, Bori
  10. Ameer Khan, Social Activist, Basmat
  11. Amir Rizvi, Designer, Mumbai
  12. Anand Patwardhan, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
  13. Anna, Social Activist, Parbhani
  14. Anjum Rajabali, Film writer, Mumbai
  15. Anwar Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
  16. Arshad Alam, Columnist, IMSD, New Delhi
  17. A J Jawad, Advocate, Co-convener, IMSD, Chennai
  18. Askari Zaidi, Senior Journalist, IMSD, Mumbai
  19. Athar Qazi, Social Activist, Parbhani
  20. Awez Kureshi, Social Activist, Parbhani
  21. Ayyub Khan, Social Activist, Partur, Jalna
  22. Aziz Lokhandwala, Businessman, Mumbai
  23. Bilal Khan, Kamgar Sanrakshan Sammaan Sangh, Mumbai
  24. Chand Shaikh Zamindar, Parbhani
  25. Dilip Simeon, Historian, New Delhi
  26. Farhan Rahman, Research Scholar, Ranchi
  27. Feroz Abbas Khan, Theatre and Film Director, Playwright, Screenwriter, Mumbai
  28. Feroze Mithiborwala, Co-convener, IMSD, Mumbai
  29. Ghulam Mohiyuddin Faruki MD, New York
  30. Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, Islamic Scholar, Writer, Translator, New Delhi
  31. Guddi Tiwari, Yusuf Meherally Centre, Mumbai
  32. Hasan Pasha, Writer, Allahabad
  33. Harsh Kapoor, Publisher SACW, Social Activist, New Delhi.
  34. Imran Khan, Social Activist, Parbhani
  35. Imran Khan, Shahpur
  36. Irfan Engineer, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai
  37. Irfan Khan, Automobiles, Bori
  38. Javed Akhtar, Poet, Lyricist, Writer, Former MP, Mumbai
  39. Javed Anand, Convener, IMSD, Mumbai
  40. Kailash Rao Chowdhari, Parbhani
  41. Kaleem Shaikh, Businessman, Parbhani
  42. Kalim Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
  43. Kishore Jagtap, Vidyarthi Bharti, Mumbai
  44. Kasim Sait, Businessman, Social Activist, Chennai
  45. Masooma Ranalvi, Co-Founder, India Lead | WeSpeakOut, New Delhi
  46. Mateen Pathan, Social Activist, Bori
  47. Mirza Rafik, Journalist, Nanded
  48. Aamer, Parbhani
  49. Mohammad Imran, PIO, USA.
  50. Mohammad Yaseen, Social Activist, Nanded
  51. Mufees Shaikh, Parbhani
  52. Mujahid Khan, Social Activist, Hingoli
  53. Muniza Khan, CJP, IMSD, Varanasi
  54. Mustafa Khan, Banner maker, Basmat
  55. Nadim Shaikh author, Social Activist, Parbhani
  56. Najma Kazi, Social Activist, Amravati
  57. Najma Parvin, Social Activist, Kolkata
  58. Naseeruddin Shah, Actor, Mumbai
  59. Nasreen Contractor, Co-convener, IMSD, Mumbai
  60. (Prof) Nasreen Fazelbhoy, Educationist, IMSD, Mumbai
  61. Nehal Shaikh, Engineer, Parbhani
  62. Nimesha Faude, Social Activist, Parbhani
  63. Purushottam Agrawal is a writer, author, formerly UPSC Member, New Delhi
  64. Qaisar Sultana, Homemaker, Allahabad
  65. Qutub Jahan, NEEDA, Mumbai
  66. Rafeek Pathan, Social Activist, Bori
  67. Rafeek Shaikh, Optician, Parbhani
  68. Rafiq Shaikh, Parbhani
  69. Rahebar Khan, Hingoli
  70. Raheem Khan, Civil Engineer, Pabhani
  71. Rahim Khan Social Activist, Parbhani
  72. Rahim Pathan, Social Activist, Parbhani
  73. (Dr) Ram Puniyani, Author, Social Activist, Mumbai
  74. Razzak Shaikh, Parbhani
  75. Rehan Khan, Shopkeeper, Bori
  76. Riyaaz Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
  77. Sadique Basha, Social Activist, Mira Road, Thane
  78. Sayeed Khan, Contractor, Parbhani
  79. Sana Khan, Teacher, Parbhani
  80. Sana Khan, Partur, Jalna
  81. Sandeep Pandey, General Secretary, Socialist Party (India), Lucknow
  82. Shabana Azmi, Actor, former MP, Mumbai
  83. Shabana Mashraki, Lead Assessor (ISO standards), Mumbai
  84. Shahnawaz Alam, Associate Professor, UP
  85. Shaikh Aslam, Social Activist, Parbhani
  86. Shaikh Chand, Contactor, Parbhani
  87. Shaikh Mohsin, Social Activist, Bori
  88. Shaikh Rizwan, Social Activist, Parbhani
  89. Shama Zaidi, Documentary Film Maker, Mumbai
  90. Shamsul Islam, Author, Social Activist, New Delhi
  91. Shariq Contractor, CA, Mumbai
  92. Sohel Pathan, Social Activist, Parbhani
  93. Sunny, Social Activist, Parbhani
  94. (Dr) Suresh Khairnar, Social Activist, Nagpur
  95. Syed Aliya, Social Activist, Nashik
  96. Tahzeeb Pathan, Social Activist, Parbhani
  97. Tayab Khan, Shopkeeper, Parbhani
  98. Tayyab Pathan, Teacher, Parbhani
  99. Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, CJP, IMSD, Mumbai
  100. Toheed Atar, Social Activist, Bori
  101. Tushar Gandhi, Peace Activist, Mumbai
  102. Varsha Vidya Vilas, Sadbhavna Sangh, Mumbai
  103. Yash Paranjpe, Bharat Bachao Andolan, Mumbai
  104. Yasmeen Shaikh, Mumbai
  105. Yousuf Saeed, Documentary Film maker, New Delhi
  106. Waseem Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
  107. Wasim Ansari, Social Activist, Parbhani
  108. Zakia Soman, Co-founder, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, New Delhi
  109. (Dr.) Zaheer Ahmed Sayeed, Neurologist, Chennai
  110. Zameer Shaikh, Social Activist, Parbhani
  111. Zoya, Teacher, Parbhani
  112. Zoya Begum, Social Activist, Mumbai



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