A recent tweet by Maajid Nawaz, a parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in the UK and a former Islamist turned moderate Muslim, sparked a political controversy in British politics this past week. The tweet contained a link to a cartoon of Jesus and the Prophet Muhammed. It also contained a statement by Nawaz indicating that he did not find the cartoon offensive. In response to his tweet, some British Muslims organized a petition calling for the Liberal Democrats to deselect him, maintaining that Nawaz was deliberately trying to offend those Muslims who oppose visual representations of Muhammed. Nawaz's defenders criticized the petition as an attempt to stifle freedom of speech. Nawaz also received some death threats in light of the tweet.
The Islam Channel, a London-based satellite station, invited Dr. Todd Green, assistant professor of religion, to join a panel discussion via Skype on the news program Analysis in order to weigh in on the controversy in light of other freedom of speech debates involving Muslims in Europe, including the Rushdie Affair and the Danish Cartoon controversies. On the program, which aired on January 28, Green argued that the more recent controversy will unlikely become a geopolitical event as was the case with the Danish cartoons a decade ago. He also criticized some of the media coverage of the controversy for assuming that those Muslims petitioning for Nawaz's deselection must be opposed to freedom of expression, countering that the petition drive is a calculated political tactic that is consistent with a commitment to the democratic process.
Dr. Green holds a B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College, an M.Div. from Columbia Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. He joined the faculty of Luther College in 2008.