Their party affiliation is immaterial to this, the central question: Would they have been arrested for burning a Bible? A Bhagavad-Gita? A Torah? A Talmud? The Analects of Confucius? The Tao Te Ching?
Why not? Absurdities lie on either end of the spectrum of enforcement: either admit there is a double standard and the Qur’an is protected unlike any other book, or exhaust resources protecting all religions’ holy writ from physical desecration, from the most ornate King James Bible to a paperback copy of Dianetics.
Or, simply respect the right to free speech, which is hollow when the possibility of causing offense is ruled out, and all the more so when only one group is protected above all others. “BNP candidate Sion Owens faces ‘Koran burn’ charge,” from BBC News, April 10:
A BNP candidate for next month’s Welsh assembly elections has been charged with a public order offence, after police were passed a video appearing to show him burning a copy of the Koran.
Quoth the British Home Office in this report: “‘The government absolutely condemns the burning of the Koran. It is fundamentally offensive to the values of our pluralist and tolerant society.'”
By “it,” one supposes they mean the burning. That kind of grammatical ambiguity could all but cause riots nowadays.
Sion Owens, 41, was named as a party candidate for the South Wales West regional list last week.
He is due to appear at Swansea magistrates’ court on Monday.
A second BNP election candidate has been arrested in connection with the incident, and released on bail.
A BNP spokesperson said both would still be candidates in the assembly election on 5 May.
On Friday, police were given a video which appeared to show Mr Owens dousing a copy of the Koran with a highly flammable fluid, before setting it alight and watching it burn.
Later that day he and another of the party’s candidates for the assembly election, Swansea East candidate Joanne Shannon, were arrested.
Mr Owens was charged on Saturday night. He is in custody in Swansea, and due to appear in court on Monday.
Ms Shannon has been bailed pending further inquiries