Muslim Lawyer Slams British Olympian’s Suspension

LONDON – A British Muslim lawyer condemned on Wednesday, November 2, a British Gymnastics decision to suspend the Olympian who appeared in a leaked video mocking Islam, saying that Muslims have forgiven the athlete, for having apologized in a visit to mosques late on October.

“Forgiveness is always preferred when a person has expressed remorse as Louis has,” Qasim Rashid, a lawyer and Islamic Studies fellow at Harvard University, told Daily Mail on Wednesday, November 2.

“They could have accomplished a lot more by recognizing people make mistakes and appreciating they can rectify mistakes and rewarding them for that.”

The four-time Olympic medalist Louis Smith triggered controversy after appearing in a video with his friend, Luke Carson, mocking Islam by laughing while pretending to pray and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’.

The player visited two mosques later on October to apologize to the Muslim community for offending them.

To clear the water, Louis has since issued a public apology on social media.

Though Muslims accepted Smith’s apology, British Gymnastics chiefs took a dim view of his actions and banned him for two months. Smith was not planning to compete for the rest of the year anyway.

Carson was given a reprimand but is still able to coach.

Therefore, Qasim said that Muslims were disappointed with the decision.

“Islam prescribes no punishment for mocking Islam,” the Muslim lawyer said.

“The Muslim community has been working hard to demonstrate that Islam’s true face is compassion.

“I hope this punishment doesn’t make people feel that Muslims are demanding some form of retribution,” he added.

On the other hand, British Gymnastics chief executive, Jane Allen said Smith and Carson’s actions had taken some of the shine of a record-breaking performance at Rio 2016.

“We hope in the future they use their profile to have a positive impact on sport and communities,” said Allen.