Sunday, November 12, 2006

Picking on Islam?

I wonder.

Two things are going on here. I'm not quite sure what's going on, but the two phenomena seem particularly contradictory.

First this comes up, reporting on the acquittal of two British National Party members on charges of inciting racial hatred:
During the trial, the jury heard extracts from a speech Mr Griffin made in the Reservoir Tavern in Keighley, on 19 January 2004, in which he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith" and said Muslims were turning Britain into a "multi-racial hell hole"....

Speaking to the BBC after the acquittal, Chancellor Gordon Brown said race laws may have to be tightened.

He said: "I think any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country and I think we've got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes.

"And if that means we've got to look at the laws again I think we will have to do so".

[I feel it necessary to say that I've grown up loathing the BNP. They were the spiritual successors of Oswald Mosley's blackshirts. Many of their statements and publications were unashamedly racist. I do not know whether under Nick Griffin they have actually reformed themselves. I am told that they claim to have done so.]
Then we read this in response:

Home Secretary John Reid said he would consult ministers after Gordon Brown said current laws may need reviewing.

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said Muslims were offended and must be sure that the law would protect them.

But Lib Dem MP Evan Harris said tighter laws could create "extremist martyrs".

Lord Falconer later told BBC Radio 4's Any Questions? that the government had to show young Muslims that Britain was not anti-Islamic.

"We should look at them in the light of what's happened here because what is being said to young Muslim people in this country is that we as a country are anti-Islam, and we have got to demonstrate without compromising freedom that we are not," he said.

He said there should be "consequences" from saying Islam is "wicked and evil".

and this from Lord Ahmed:
The will of ministers to tighten laws on racial hatred has been questioned by Muslim Labour peer Lord Ahmed.

Several ministers called for a review of the legislation after the BNP's leader was cleared of stirring up racial hatred in remarks about Islam.

But Lord Ahmed said the government had not delivered on previous promises to the Muslim community on race hate laws.

It was time for the government to start treating Muslims equally and not like "subjects of a colony", he said.

Lord Ahmed told the BBC that the government had made unfulfilled promises to the Muslim community earlier this year when a new law on religious and racial hatred was watered down as a result of a Commons defeat.

The peer said ministers should have shown more determination to push their measures through.

He said: "What I have seen is that the government has been treating the Muslim community like subjects of a colony rather than equal citizens in the UK."

OK, so we ban anti-religious comment (I exclude the "multi-racial hell-hole" comment, which seems unabashedly racist to me; note however, the focus by politicians on "saying Islam is wicked" and the fact that if he'd said "multicultural hell-hole", Jack Straw and many other Labour pols might recently have agreed)
Might one then ask how this is acceptable:
Controversial scientist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins, dubbed "Darwin's Rottweiler," calls religion a "virus" and faith-based education "child abuse" in a two-part series he wrote and appears in that begins airing on the UK's Channel 4, beginning tomorrow evening.
Now, have a look at this not very good article in Wired.

Does the tolerance and praise for Richard Dawkins coupled with the calls for "consequences" to follow on saying that "Islam is wicked and evil" really look like a coherent intellectual position? I think not. More like what you'd expect from my dog or a set of refugees from the asylum, or, and this is more worrying, people with legislative power who see no need for any coherence in the law whatsoever.

Let's move on then to this stuff from the head of MI5 on the terrorist threat facing the UK:

MI5 knows of 30 terror plots threatening the UK and is keeping 1,600 individuals under surveillance, the security service's head has said.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller warned the threat was "serious" and "growing".

She said future attacks could be chemical or nuclear and that many of the plots were linked to al-Qaeda.

and this from Tony Blair:
Tony Blair has said he supports MI5's assessment that Britain is facing the threat of multiple terror plots.

He said the dangers were "very real" and he spoke of "poisonous propaganda" warping the minds of young people.

The prime minister said the threat had "grown up over a generation" and Dame Eliza warned that it was "serious" and "growing".

Hard choices

MI5 has increased in size by nearly 50% since 9/11 and now stands at roughly 2,800 staff.

But according to Dame Eliza the current terror threat will "last a generation" and her concern is that even with MI5's rapid growth, the security service will not be able to investigate nearly enough of activities it deems to be suspicious.

Here is the full text of Dame Eliza's speech, and you might also look at American Future's post.

The Beeb produced more idle analysis of Buller's speech:

The plots were as ambitious as they were shocking.

But in the wake of that terrorism conviction, and a highly-nuanced speech from the head of MI5, it's worth noting that the feeling of shock does not just affect the majority in society.

Right at the heart of this storm are fearful Muslim communities in which individuals are trying to comprehend the threat.

And so while MI5, the police and others press ahead with counter-terrorism work, the real battle is how to undermine the ideology used by extremists to tempt youngsters to their cause.

Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller's speech warned of the scale of this task - 30 suspected plots, 1,600 individuals.

"More and more people are moving from passive sympathy towards active terrorism through being radicalised or indoctrinated by friends, families, in organised training events here and overseas, by images on television, through chat rooms and websites on the internet.

"My service needs to understand the motivations behind terrorism to succeed in countering it, as far as that is possible. Al-Qaeda has developed an ideology which claims that Islam is under attack, and needs to be defended."...

British Muslim communities and organisations are essentially split over radicalisation.

There is a small minority of extremists - some are genuine security threats, others may be little more than temporary fellow-travellers. The security services fear the balance may be tipping towards the former.

In denial

Then there are many, particularly among the older mosque leadership, who are in denial.

Even after the compelling video "wills" of Shehzad Tanweer and Mohammed Siddique Khan, two of the four London suicide bombers, it is not hard to find people in positions of community authority who deny that terrorists are targeting young people in their midst.

Finally, there are the growing number of British-born, middle class Muslims who are actively trying to reclaim the debate on their faith, amid fears for a lost and confused generation.

Many of this group fear Britain may be acting 15 years too late. Self-appointed preachers such as Abu Hamza and Abdullah al-Faisal, both in jail, may have already done their work.

Amid all this is a majority of ordinary Muslim folk sick of what is going on, confused about how to react politically and yearning for a more banal life [Ed: yes, it really does say `banal'].

Could it be that the attitudes typified by this are part of the problem:
A Muslim editor of a weekly newspaper in Bangladesh is being sent to trial because he printed articles that criticized extremist Islam and/or were sympathetic to Israel.
As editor of The Weekly Blitz, an English-language newspaper published in Dhaka, Choudhury aroused the ire of Bangladeshi authorities after he printed articles favorable to Israel and critical of Muslim extremism.
No, no! It's all ok because:
The fight against terror would be Gordon Brown's "first priority" if he became prime minister, he has hinted.

The chancellor also backed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair's call for tougher anti-terror powers.

A worried nation breathe a collective sigh of relief. Here we were, just starting to think that there's a serious home-grown Islamist threat and Gordon springs to the rescue. We thought that there might be a problem because the law-abiding Muslim majority in the UK is failing to recognise the growing problem with a radicalised minority (that they are probably paying for) and Gordie reassures us that it's all going to be allright. He's going to give the police stronger powers.
But what for? To catch would-be terrorists or to suppress free-speech?

UPDATES (8pm 13 Nov.): first two links:
Freedom Fighter at JOSHUAPUNDIT
Sir Henry Morgan at Reconquista
These are closely related, indeed Freedom Fighter comments on both this post and the one at Reconquista.
Secondly, I think Sir Henry has definitely got something but the stats could be better (no criticism intended). I shall try to summon the energy, but not yet!


Yorkshireminer said...

Dear Canker,
I think that there is to much to answer here, but I'll have a go. I think that the Government is shit scared. I think the threat is far bigger than the the public can even comprehend and a war, civil or otherwise is almost an inevitablility. The Government wouldn't have sanctioned the head of MI5 giving a public interview if they wern't preparing the public for a big disaster or attack. One of the interesting things about the lead up to the second world war was the was when it broke out everything seemed to be in place, civil defence appeared as if by magic the evacuation of children out of london. Goods in the warehouses in London were moved out and spread around the country. I noticed the same thing in a speech by Gordon Brown I saw on Sky where he mentioned the police force being doubled by I think 2010 and I am almost certain that he mentioned that the cadet training scheme was going to be re-introduced. He was going so fast and I was not taking it all in. The head of MI5 mentions also that the force is going to be doubled by I think 2008. These are all pointing to the fact that the Government see troubled times ahead and wants to get everything in place before it happens. It doesn't want the bombs to really go off before it is ready. The Civil Contingencies Bill, is a case in point it gives the Government almost draconian powers and when acted upon repealing and ammending almost 34 different act, this act is virtually unknown to the public. Google it and check it out. I can assure you it makes very interesting reading. When and if it is brought into play there are going to be some very surprised Muslims

This is of cause understandable any reasonable Government makes extingency plans but the other thing is that all politicians want to stay in power and in a country like Britain with a first past the post voting system minority votes can mean the difference maintaining your hold on power or losing it. Staying in power is the first duty of a politician, this tends to make them very short sighted and do thing that are not in the long term interests of the country. Another thing is the illusion that most politicians have, that they can control situations they can't and never could they can only react to events.

The other thing is that we have lost control of the country by joining the E.U. 80% of all new laws are made by faceless civil servant in in back rooms and rubber stamped by the European parliament mainly because they are so complicated and the members are mainly failed politician from the different countries who are sent there for a well paid rest cure. If you don't believe me why is the new European contitution over 500 pages long and details reindeer husbandry in the Artic while the American is a couple of dozen pages long.

The other thing of cause is that we are so dependent on Arab oil, supply is so tight mainly because of the industrialisation of China and India. When somebody blows up a pipeline in Nigeria prices soar, the Arab countries being swing produces the only ones that any real surplus capacity, any curtailment of the Arab oil supply could very easily put the world economy into a tail spin which would make the depression of the 30's look like a childrens tea party.

I think all these reasons added together is the real reason that the Government and its minions act as they do.

Another reason is that most of them don't understand the Koran “Clauswitze on War” middle eastern edition, They are still under the illusion that Big Mo was a later version of Jesus Christ. They therefore make a lot of mistakes when dealing with muslims.

The almost monolitic control of our energy resourse by the large Oil companys due to the Globilsation of Capital in the last two decades has made it almost impossible for any country to have an effective stratigic energy policy. The Oil companies will and can bring down Governments if they threaten there profits. There are many alternative forms of energy which could have been brought in decades ago which would have reduced, if not eliminated our dependency on Middle eastern oil. I'll give you a couple of links check them out and let me know

Deep regards

Yorkshire Miner

you are now on my favourite list great Blogg

Canker said...

First, thanks very much for the detailed response (and for the compliment).
I have now googled the Civil Contingencies Act and particularly noted the emergency powers:

Part 2 of the Act provides new powers that allow a Minister of the Crown to introduce temporary emergency laws for part of the country, or even the whole country if Parliament cannot be called into session quick enough for a response. Such laws are limited in duration to 30 days, unless parliament votes to extend this period before it expires. The only Act of Parliament which may not be amended by emergency regulations is the Human Rights Act 1998. There was an attempt by Conservative and Liberal Democrat peers to add a number of other key constitutional laws to the exemption list during the Bill stage, but this was unsuccessful. The laws they tried to protect from emergency regulation were:

* Habeas Corpus Act 1816
* Bill of Rights 1689
* The clause in the Parliament Act 1911 which limits the duration of a Parliament to five years
* Act of Settlement 1700
* House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975
* Life Peerages Act 1958
* House of Lords Act 1999

As you say, this legislation implies great fear (and power-seeking). When I read it, a shiver ran up my spine.
The powers contained in the Act are extreme.
I hope (but doubt) that they are based on perceived threats rather than merely the desire for more power.

With reference to our reliance on Middle Eastern oil, I maintain that this is largely a matter of will. If we wanted to we could deal with this in a few years. I wrote one of my first posts on this topic:
do we need a new Manhattan Project?

Very best wishes,

Sir Henry Morgan said...


I agree, my work was a bit rough and ready, but the numbers are real enough. There are several problems: the census data is five years old, and we know what's been happening about incomer numbers these past five years. Population differenceween boroughs. Economic circumstance difference between boroughs. Population-mixing. Cross-borough-borders crime. Population densities.

I found it impossible to establish any sort of causal relationship, but I did find those rough correlations, so I posted them. They tied in with reports from other countries where there is even less info. available than here (e.g. in France it is illegal to ask religion for census purposes, or for crime reporting)and they were so consistent I went with them.

I'm not a mathematician, so I don't have the tools to sort out the confounds. Best I can manage is u/g stats for social sciences, and that's not really up to the task. It would be good if you could do so. No hurry.

Have to concur with miner about your blog.

And isn't that Civil Contingencies act sinister ... depends what they use it for, I suppose, but do we trust them? I have the same doubts you expressed.

Canker said...

Sir Henry,
Thanks for the compliment and I apologise if it sounded as though I was criticising your statistics. I wasn't. I found your post fascinating.

My main difference would be to look at it as a regression: sexual crimes against muslim percentage. Then we need to test whether the trend is significant...

bernie said...

Racial hatred will be the least of the UK's problems when the revolt finally comes. I linked to your article from 13 People to Blame for all the World's Troubles