"Letter? What letter?"
Last May, I posted an article on the Freedom Pledge, a letter initiated by Nonie Darwish, a Muslim apostate, who is the head of Former Muslims United. In 2009, this letter was sent to 100 Muslim leaders in the US asking them to sign a pledge that Muslim apostates in the US not be harmed
Yesterday, I attended a Shariah workshop at Loyola Marymount University hosted by the Shura Council of Southern California. The principle organizer was Muzammil Siddiqi, head imam of the Islamic Center of Southern California and one of the recipients of the letter. As mentioned in the above post, Siddiqi neither signed the letter nor responded to it.
I will be posting later on the workshop as a whole, but this particular part of the event deserves its own posting.
During a break in the workshop, I approached Siddiqi and re-introduced myself. I asked him why he had not signed the letter or even responded to it. He acted as if he didn't know what I was talking about, so I explained the letter, who sent it, and the fact that two other leading figures present at the event had also received the letter (Jamal Badawi and Zulfiqar Ali Shah). Siddiqi did not seem to know who Nonie Darwish was. Finally, he told me that he had never received such a letter.
At that point, I asked him whether he believed that apostates should be put to death. His reply was that if someone wants to leave Islam, it's OK-let them go. I then asked what if in addition to leaving Islam, they proceeded to publicly criticize Islam, and I gave as examples, Darwish and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Although he didn't seem to recognize Ali's name (I had to give further details about her-being from Somalia and living in Holland), he then stated that this was different. As an example, he gave an Afghan who fought with the Russians in Afghanistan. "That is treason", he said. As for apostasy alone, he said that "some (Muslims) say it should be" (punishable by death), but as for him, no.
Later, at the end of the event, Siddiqi came over to say goodbye. I told him that maybe I would get Darwish to send him another copy of the letter.
Of course, I can't resist the opportunity to point out again that Siddiqi last year received a community leader award from the Orange County Human Relations Commission under Rusty Kennedy, the prestigious "Rusty Award".