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EFD expresses solidarity with its Senior Fellow Irshad Manji, attacked by Islamic fundamentalists in Indonesia

Brussels, Friday, 11th May 2012

Following the attack on Irshad Manji, EFD calls on the EU and national governments to support reformist Muslims both in Europe and further afield

The European Foundation for Democracy is appalled at the attack by Islamic fundamentalists on EFD Senior Fellow Irshad Manji in Jakarta, Indonesia this week. Irshad was presenting her latest book ‘Allah, Liberty and Love’ which has been translated into Indonesian at an event in Yogyakarta, when the building was stormed by masked Islamic extremists wielding iron bars and sticks, intent on disrupting the panel discussion and silencing the Muslim reformist thinker. A group of women activists who attended the discussion formed a human cordon around Irshad, protecting her from the worst excesses of the attacks. Her assistant, however, was rushed to hospital, having been struck by an iron bar. Two others sustained head injuries. It is regrettable that the authorities capitulated to the fundamentalists and closed down the event. Freedom of speech and democracy are not served by giving in to those – radicals Islamists - who shout loudest.

Irshad said ‘Four years ago, I came to Indonesia and experienced a nation of tolerance, openness and pluralism. Things have changed. Islamic radicals have been allowed to close down legitimate debate about issues which Indonesians hold dear to their hearts – the reform of Islam from within. But we will not be silenced. Our work of speaking truth to power has in fact been strengthened by this cowardly attack. We are not going away and will continue to fight for freedom of speech!’

Roberta Bonazzi, Executive Director of EFD reiterated Irshad’s comments adding ‘Irshad is so brave. A few months ago a group of Islamic radicals attacked an event that we had organised in Amsterdam. Irshad stood firm in the face of that naked aggression. I know she will not be intimated by these appalling and cowardly attacks in Indonesia. She is the embodiment of moral courage and we will continue to support her in her work to challenge the radicals and encourage freedom of speech regardless of where in the world we come up against fundamentalists who want to stifle that debate. We call on the EU and national governments to support reformist Muslims both in Europe and further afield who are not represented by radicals like those who attacked this event.’


EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR DEMOCRACY: Based in Brussels, EFD ( is a non-profit organisation which promotes universal human rights, individual liberty, freedom of conscience and pluralism of peaceful ideas. Its accomplishments include the support of Muslim reformers and activists in several European countries who advocate democratic values inside their communities.

IRSHAD MANJI: Senior Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, Irshad Manji also directs the Moral Courage Project at New York University ( Her previous book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, has been published in more than 30 countries. In those countries that have banned her book, Prof. Manji reaches readers by posting free-of-charge translations on her website, To date, the Arabic, Urdu and Farsi translations have been downloaded more than 2 million times.

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