Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain, a foremost “moderate” leader, has written this Telegraph piece (thanks to Miss Moneypenney) defending Britain’s new religious hatred law.
Sacranie begins by recounting the flap over Charles Moore’s discussion (and dismissal) of the possibility that Islam’s prophet Muhammad was a pedophile. Then he argues that the new law isn’t really new:
Yet the proposed legislation does not create a new offence as such. Such an offence already exists in relation to the Jewish and Sikh communities, by dint of their being regarded as mono-ethnic communities. It also exists in relation to all faith and belief communities in Northern Ireland. The Home Office proposal simply extends the current provisions to all faith communities in mainland Britain. If the present provisions in relation to Jews, Sikhs and Northern Ireland raise no concerns – and there is no real campaign to remove these provisions – why should they raise concerns if extended to other religions in Britain?
So, the incitement to religious hatred proposal is not a matter of advancing privileges for British Muslims. It’s about establishing equality under the law.
The current loophole in our legislation has resulted in far Right groups such as the BNP modifying their racist rhetoric of yesteryear – no doubt out of fear of prosecution – into a more explicitly and aggressively anti-Muslim invective, this time without fear of breaking the law.
Stirring up hatred against people simply because of their religious beliefs or lack of them ought to be regarded as a social evil. The BNP’s ongoing Islamophobia can and has led to criminal acts, abuse, discrimination, fear and disorder. At the moment, there are laws against those who are stirred into committing these offences, but not against those that do the stirring. In opposing the incitement to religious hatred provision, Charles Moore, Rowan Atkinson and the National Secular Society are unwittingly strengthening the hand of those, such as the BNP, who peddle religious hatred.
This is slickly done. However, if an article like Moore’s would really be ruled out by the new law, then in effect it will chill reasonable discussion of uncomfortable matters pertaining to Islam, as well as veritable “hate speech.” Also, Sacranie is wrong that such protections already exist for other religions and groups. If that were true, Omar Bakri would have been behind bars long ago for his Al-Muhajiroun seminar, “The Obligation of Inciting Religious Hatred.” But as of this writing, he is still at large.
What this law does is make Muslims a protected class, beyond criticism, precisely at the moment when Britain needs to examine, honestly and thoughtfully, the implications of having admitted into the country a large number of people with greater allegiance to the Sharia than to the present British state. The long night for Britain is just beginning.