For the first time, an American Muslim has won a national award for work promoting the compatibility of Islam and classical liberalism or “limited government.” Liberty Candidates, a nationwide grass roots organization that supports political candidates with views similar to those of 2008 and 2012 presidential candidate Ron Paul, awarded Will Coley one of its 2012 Liberty Inspiration awards. Will Coley, one of the founders and current head of Muslims4Liberty, has made news for his work in countering Islamophobia in Tea Party and other right-of-center circles.
175 people were nominated for the award, with 540 votes cast in the form of statements. Other award winners included philosopher Stefan Molyneux, Ron Paul, historian Tom Woods, police accountability activist Antonio Buehler, Liberty Candidates founder Gigi Bowman, and radio broadcaster John Bush.
Coley received support from people representing a wide spectrum of religious and non-religious beliefs. “[R}eading the nomination letters, it was quite humbling to see just how far our message has reached. the kind words of Muslims, and liberty activists touched by our work was quite moving,” said Coley. “I think it's pretty big to have a nobody like me, honored along side the biggest national names in the Liberty movement. These other guys were rockstars, with national media coverage. I’m just a regular guy.”
Eric Sharp, State Chair of the Tennessee chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, explained his vote for Coley: I’m not a student of Islam, so I can’t give merit or deny [Coley’s] claim but it is an interesting and different take on the subject….I had the pleasure of hosting Will Coley for a lecture on Islam and Liberty last March 2012. It was very interesting and several members of the MTSU Islamic student organization were in attendance and found the lecture insightful. He spoke about how classical liberalism isn’t only comparable with Islam; much of it was developed out of the Islamic legal tradition. I can’t verify this but it’s very interesting that Coley presents such a different viewpoint in the defense of freedom.”