Muslim Lawyer Asma Uddin Warns ‘Hate Speech’ Policies at U.S. Colleges Are Similar to Anti-Blasphemy Laws in Pakistan That Incite Mob Violence

Muslim lawyer and author Asma Uddin speaks during a panel discussion hosted by the National Religious Broadcasters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2019. She was joined in the conversation by NRB General Counsel Craig Parshall and journalist Steven Waldman. | The Christian Post

A Muslim lawyer is warning that “hate speech” policies instituted at a number of college campuses in the U.S. are having similar psychological effects on students that anti-blasphemy laws in Pakistan have on citizens who are sometimes incited to mob violence.

Asma Uddin, an author and religious freedom attorney who has worked on U.S. Supreme Court and federal cases, participated in a wide-ranging discussion on religious liberty Wednesday at the National Press Club during a panel event hosted by the National Religious Broadcasters, an association of Christian media organizations.

The event was moderated by evangelical lawyer Craig Parshall, NRB’s general counsel, and journalist Steven Waldman, the founder of Beliefnet who has written extensively on the history of religious freedom in America.

Uddin, who was born in the United States of Pakistani descent, and founded altmuslimah.com, touched on the topic of hate speech codes that seem to be increasingly implemented on public and private college campuses in the U.S. Such policies have been enacted to prevent people from speaking in ways that could offend other students.

In a number of cases, students have been suspended or punished in some way for voicing their religious beliefs in class on issues like Islam and sexual morality. Some colleges have also restricted free speech on campuses to administratively selected “free speech zones.”

“Increasingly, administrators are trying to sort of shield students from offensive speech,” said  Uddin, who previously served with the legal nonprofit Becket and worked on Supreme Court cases such as Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor.

“There have been plenty of studies, including by centrists such as Jonathan Haidt, who have shown exactly the sort of psychological problem this creates and actually sets up a situation that is sort of conducive to young adults who are falling into depression, for instance.”

As a known critic of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws (which criminalizes criticizing the religion of Islam and in some cases is punishable by death), Uddin warned that what she has seen taking place on some college campuses in the U.S. over the last few years is similar to what has taken place in the Muslim-majority nation.

In Pakistan, mob violence has been known to ensue after allegations have been made against Christians and religious minorities that they insulted Islam and committed blasphemy. In some cases, mob violence has led to the killing of those who were accused of blasphemy.

In comparison, there have been cases where mobs of protesters have formed on college campuses in the U.S. to oppose conservative scholars invited to speak on campus. At Middlebury College in Vermont in 2017, a professor had to go to the hospital after she was assaulted by an angry student mob while escorting a conservative scholar who was halted from speaking on campus.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith