Britain’s Labour Party Vows to Ban Islamophobia

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, April 30, 2015

  • “In Miliband’s Britain, it will become impossible to criticise any aspect of Islamic culture, whether it be the spread of the burka or the establishment of Sharia courts or the construction of colossal new mosques. … If he wins, Miliband will ensure that the accelerating Islamification of our country will go unchallenged.” — Leo McKinstry, British commentator.
  • The report shows that Britain’s Muslim population is overwhelmingly young and will exert increasing political influence as time goes on. The median age of the Muslim population in Britain is 25 years, compared to the overall population’s median age of 40 years.

The leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Ed Miliband, has vowed, if he becomes the next prime minister in general elections on May 7, to outlaw “Islamophobia.”

The move — which one observer has called “utterly frightening” because of its implications for free speech in Britain — is part of an effort by Miliband to pander to Muslim voters in a race that he has described as “the tightest general election for a generation.”

With the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour running neck and neck in the polls just days before voters cast their ballots, British Muslims — who voted overwhelmingly for Labour in the 2010 general election — could indeed determine who will be the next prime minister.

In an interview with The Muslim News, Miliband said:

“We are going to make it [Islamophobia] an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime.

“We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country.”

Miliband appears to be trying to reopen a long-running debate in Britain over so-called religious hatred. Between 2001 and 2005, the then-Labour government, led by Prime Minister Tony Blair, made two attempts (here and here) to amend Part 3 of the Public Order Act 1986, to extend existing provisions on incitement to racial hatred to cover incitement to religious hatred.

Those efforts ran into opposition from critics who said the measures were too far-reaching and threatened the freedom of speech. At the time, critics argued that the scope of the Labour government’s definition of “religious hatred” was so draconian that it would have made any criticism of Islam a crime.

In January 2006, the House of Lords approved the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, after amending the text so that the law would be limited to banning only “threatening” words and not those that are merely abusive or insulting. Lawmakers also said that the offense would require the intention — not just the possibility — of stirring up religious hatred. They added that proselytizing, discussion, criticism, abuse and ridicule of religion, belief or religious practice would not be an offense.

Miliband’s renewed promise to make “Islamophobia” (a term he has not defined) an “aggravated crime” may signal an attempt to turn the 2006 Act — which already stipulates a maximum penalty of seven years in prison for stirring up religious hatred — into a full-blown Muslim blasphemy law.

According to British commentator Leo McKinstry, “Miliband’s proposal goes against the entire tradition of Western democracy, which holds that people should be punished only for their deeds, not their opinions.” In an opinion article, he added:

“In Miliband’s Britain, it will become impossible to criticise any aspect of Islamic culture, whether it be the spread of the burka or the establishment of Sharia courts or the construction of colossal new mosques. We already live in a society where Mohammed is now the most popular boy’s name and where a child born in Birmingham is more likely to be a Muslim than a Christian. If he wins, Miliband will ensure that the accelerating Islamification of our country will go unchallenged.”

McKinstry says Miliband is currying favor with Britain’s three million-strong Muslim community to “prop up Labour’s urban vote.”

Muslims are emerging as a key voting bloc in British politics and are already poised to determine the outcome of local elections in many parts of the country, according to a report by the Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella group.

The report shows that Britain’s Muslim population is overwhelmingly young and will exert increasing political influence as time goes on. The median age of the Muslim population in Britain is 25 years, compared to the overall population’s median age of 40 years.

An extrapolation of the available data indicates that one million British Muslims aged 18 and above will be eligible to vote in this year’s election. According to one study, Muslims could determine the outcome of up to 25% of the 573 Parliamentary seats in England and Wales.

Others say that although Britain’s Muslim community is growing, it is also ethnically diverse and unlikely to vote as a single group. One analyst has argued that the potential for Muslim influence in this year’s election “will remain unrealized because the Muslim vote is not organized in any meaningful way on a national level.”

A study produced by Theos, a London-based religious think tank, found that although Muslims consistently vote Labour, they do so based on class and economic considerations, not out of religious motives.

Indeed, a poll conducted by the BBC on April 17 found that nearly one-quarter of “Asian” voters still do not know which party they will support at the general election. Some of those interviewed by the BBC said that economic issues would determine whom they vote for.

In any event, Muslim influence in the 2015 vote will be largely determined by Muslim voter turnout, which has been notoriously low in past elections: Only 47% of British Muslims were estimated to have voted in 2010.

Since then, several grassroots campaigns have been established to encourage British Muslims to go to the polls in 2015, including Get Out & Vote, Muslim Vote and Operation Black Vote. Another group, YouElect, states:

“A staggering 53% of British Muslims did not vote in the 2010 General Election, such a high figure of Muslim non-voters indicates that many Muslims feel ignored by politicians and disillusioned by the political process.

“With the rise of Islamophobic rhetoric in politics and an ever increasing amount of anti-terror legislation which specifically targets Muslims, it is now more important than ever that Muslims use the vote to send a message to politicians that their attitudes and policies must change.

“YouElect wants to get the message across that there is something you can do about the issues you care about. We have launched a new campaign using the hashtag #SortItOut, which calls on Muslims to use the political process to address the issues that concern them most.

“With 100,000 new young Muslims eligible to vote this year and 26 parliamentary constituencies with a Muslim population of over 20%, the Muslim community has a very real opportunity to make an impact on British politics.”

Not all Muslims agree. The British-born Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary is actively discouraging Muslims from voting. In a stream of Twitter messages using the #StayMuslimDontVote hashtag, Choudary has argued that voting is a “sin” against Islam because Allah is “the only legislator.” He has also said that Muslims who vote or run for public office are “apostates.”

Despite several grassroots campaigns to encourage British Muslims to vote in greater numbers, some prominent Islamists in the UK claim that voting is a “sin.”

Other British Islamists are following Choudary’s lead. Bright yellow posters claiming that democracy “violates the right of Allah” have been spotted in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and Leicester, as part of a grassroots campaign called #DontVote4ManMadeLaw.

One such poster stated:

“Democracy is a system whereby man violates the right of Allah and decides what is permissible or impermissible for mankind, based solely on their whims and desires.

“Islam is the only real, working solution for the UK. It is a comprehensive system of governance where the laws of Allah are implemented and justice is observed.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Muslims Pressing for Blasphemy Laws in Europe

by Soeren Kern

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries, is pressuring Western countries into making it an international crime to criticize Islam or Mohammed – all on the name of “religious tolerance.”

The Dutch parliament has approved a motion to revoke a law that makes it a crime to insult God.

Free speech activists say the move represents a significant victory at a time when Muslim groups are stepping up pressure on European governments to make it a crime to criticize of Islam or the prophet Mohammed.

Article 147 of the Dutch Penal Code was drafted in the 1930s and had not been used for half a century; leading legislators said there was no longer a need for it. The decision to abolish the law follows national elections in September 2012, in which two liberal parties (the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the Labour Party (PvdA) emerged victorious.

The issue was brought to the attention of the Dutch parliament in June 2011, when Geert Wilders, a MP who crusades for free-speech, was acquitted after facing trial on charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. The judge ruled that Wilders had the right to criticize Islam, even though his opinions may have insulted many Muslims.

Wilders, who leads the Freedom Party, had described Islam as “fascist,” and compared Islam’s holy book, the Koran, to Adolf Hitler’s political manifesto “Mein Kampf.” Amsterdam judge Marcel van Oosten said Wilders’s statements were directed at Islam, not at Muslims, and ruled that the statements were “acceptable within the context of public debate.”

Wilders said at the time that the verdict was “not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands.” But many European countries still have blasphemy laws which restrict freedom of expression, and in some cases, such laws have been replaced with more general legislation that criminalizes religious hatred.

The decision to scrap the country’s blasphemy law has been hailed internationally by activists, who have long called it outdated and a threat to free speech.

The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, issued a report about “The Issue of Regulation and Prosecution of Blasphemy, Religious Insult, and Incitement to Religious Hatred.” The report noted that, in Europe, blasphemy is an offense in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and San Marino.

In addition, “Religious Insult” is a criminal offense in Andorra, Cyprus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.

Britain, for example, abolished the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel in England and Wales in 2008. But in 2006 the British government enacted the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which created a new crime of intentionally stirring up religious hatred against people on religious grounds. The new law has led to zealousness bordering on the irrational.

In Nottingham, for example, the Greenwood Primary School cancelled a Christmas nativity play because it interfered with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. In Scarborough, the Yorkshire Coast College removed the words Christmas and Easter from their calendar not to offend Muslims. In Scotland, the Tayside Police Department apologized for featuring a German shepherd puppy as part of a campaign to publicize its new non-emergency telephone number. As Islamic legal tradition holds that dogs are impure, the postcards used in the campaign were potentially offensive to the city’s 3,000-strong Muslim community;

In Glasgow, a Christian radio talk show host was fired after a debate between a Muslim and a Christian on whether Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” In Birmingham, two Christians were told by police “you cannot preach here, this is a Muslim area.” In Cheshire, two students at the Alsager High School were punished by their teacher for refusing to pray to Allah as part of their religious education class. Also in Cheshire, a 14-year-old Roman Catholic girl who attends Ellesmere Port Catholic High School was branded a truant by teachers for refusing to dress like a Muslim and visit a mosque.

In Liverpool, a Christian couple was forced to sell their hotel after a female Muslim guest accused the pair of insulting her during a debate about Islam. In London, Rory Bremner, a political comedian, said that every time he writes a sketch about Islam, he fears that he is signing his own death warrant. At the same time, Scotland Yard says that Muslims who launch a shoe at another person are not committing a crime because the practice is Islamic symbolism.

In recent months, however, Muslims have been lobbying to reinstate blasphemy laws in Britain. A petition reportedly sent to British Prime Minister David Cameron reads: “It is axiomatic that Great Britain is a key player in global harmony. British parliamentarians have made outstanding progress in eradicating racism, anti-Semitism, discrimination, inequalities and other factors causing hurt to all citizens. The trust and hope of millions of British Muslims is placed in yourselves as representatives and Members of Parliament to call for changes in the law to protect the honor of Faith Symbols of Islam and other faiths.”

In February 2012, it emerged that a Muslim activist group with links to the Muslim Brotherhood had asked the British government to restrict the way the British media reports about Muslims and Islam.

More recently, a Muslim lobbying group called ENGAGE launched an exhibition and a month-long campaign “Islamophobia Awareness Month,” highlighting the spread of “Islamophobia” in Britain. The exhibition was held in the British Parliament and ENGAGE activists pressed Members of Parliament to strengthen the existing religious hatred law to provide more protections for Muslims.

In Ireland, a new blasphemy law went into effect in January 2010. The Irish Defamation Act, which created the crime of blasphemous libel, makes “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” punishable by a fine of up to €25,000 ($32,500).

According to the Irish Times, Ireland’s blasphemy law is being cited by Islamic states “as justification” for persecuting religious dissidents. Pakistan, for example, has cited the Irish statute at the United Nations to support its own blasphemy laws.

In Denmark, blasphemy is outlawed by Paragraph 140 of the penal code, which states: “Anyone who publicly mocks or insults the tenets of faith or worship of any religious community existing in this country legally will be punished by fine or imprisonment for up to four months.” The law has not been used since 1938. Measures were proposed in 2004 to abolish the blasphemy article, but the proposals were not adopted and the law remains on the books.

The rules against hate speech and racism are set down in the infamous Paragraph 266b of the Danish penal code, which states: “Whoever publicly, or with intention to disseminating in a larger circle makes statements or other pronouncements, by which a group of persons is threatened, derided or degraded because of their race, color of skin, national or ethnic background, faith or sexual orientation, will be punished by fine or imprisonment for up to two years.”

Free speech advocate Lars Hedegaard was prosecuted under this statute for remarks made to a blogger in December 2009 criticizing Islam. He was finally acquitted by the Danish Supreme Court in April 2012, which ruled that it could not be proven that he intended the statements to be published.

Also in Denmark, Jesper Langballe, a Danish politician and Member of Parliament, was found guilty of hate speech in December 2010 for saying that honor killings and sexual abuse take place in Muslim families.

Langballe was denied the opportunity to prove his assertions: under Danish law, it is immaterial whether a statement is true or false. All that is needed for a conviction is for someone to feel offended. Langballe was summarily sentenced to pay a fine of 5,000 Danish Kroner ($850) or spend ten days in jail.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

“Asian” grooming gang detectives hunt for FORTY more men who may have had sex with underage girls


By James Tozer and Nazia Parveen, Daily Mail:

  • Judge says gang preyed on five girls, aged between 13 and 15, partly because they were from different ‘community and religion’
  • Nine men jailed for a total of 77 years as police prepare to arrest four more
  • Judge Gerald Clifton dismisses defendants’ claims that prosecution was ‘triggered by race’ after ringleader brands him a ‘racist b******’
  • But legal counsel for one of the convicted men says he will launch an appeal on the basis of a tweet by BNP leader Nick Griffin
  • Opportunity to catch the paedophiles missed after complaint four years ago
  • As many as 47 vulnerable girls were plied with alcohol, gifts and money
  • They were then passed around for sex with ‘several men a day’
  • At least one victim forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, police say
  • Convicted men will be scattered in prisons across the UK and segregated from other prisoners over fears of revenge attacks
  • Former Labour MP Ann Cryer says gang were left to it because police feared being branded racist
  • Muslim leader warns that some British Pakistani men ‘think that white teenage girls are worthless and can be abused without a second thought’

Detectives who brought down a child sex grooming ring are poised to make more arrests – as the hunt continues for more than 40 other suspected members of the gang.

Nine Asian men were yesterday jailed for a total of 77 years for raping and abusing up to 47 girls – some as young as 13 – after plying them with alcohol and luring them to takeaways.

Now police have identified four more suspects alleged to have abused the young witness whose evidence helped secure convictions at the end of the 11-week trial.

But many more remain at large as officers try to establish the real identities of men referred to in court only by nicknames such as Goofy, Ray, Juicy, Arfan, Ali, Manni, Mamma, Pino and Arfan.

The suspected abusers have proved difficult to track down and it is feared some of them have already fled the country.

But police in Greater Manchester have managed to identify four men accused of sexually abusing the main witness at a ‘sex party’ in 2008.

Detectives believe at least one may be in Pakistan. They expect to make arrests in the next few days but are not planning to extend the investigation abroad.

The trial heard that the men – who are all from Pakistan, apart from one who is from Afghanistan – groomed and ‘shared’ the young white girls because they were vulnerable.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police said: ‘It is not a racial issue. This is about adults preying on vulnerable young children. It just happens that in this particular area and time the demographics were that these were Asian men.’

However, the gang’s ringleader yesterday branded the judge a ‘racist b******’ after he and eight other men were jailed.

The extraordinary outburst came after Judge Gerald Clinton accused the gang of targeting white girls because they were not part of their ‘community or religion’.

Yesterday senior politicians clashed over the case – with one former Labour MP claiming police and social workers ignored complaints because they were ‘petrified of being called racist’.

With experts on paedophilia insisting street grooming by Muslim men was a real problem, the judge made it clear he believed religion was a factor.

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