Oy! We have yet another example of the Left’s shameful capitulation to religion—another victory for the pseudo-oppressed when Enlightenment values conflict with the Left’s historical sympathy for the perceived underdog. But this time it’s not in the US, but in the UK.
It’s now widely known that Ed Miliband, the actual leader of the Labour Party and (since Tories are in power) Leader of the Opposition, is going about proclaiming that Labour is going to criminalize Islamophobia. This first came out in his interview with The Muslim News on April 24, where Miliband was quoted as saying this:
A future Labour Government is committed to outlaw the scourge of Islamophobia by changing the law and making it an aggravated crime, according to the Party’s Leader Ed Miliband.
“We are going to make it 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,” Miliband told the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi in a wide ranging exclusive interview.
“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,” he said.
Labour Party Manifesto pledged to take a “zero-tolerance approach to hate crime” regarding the growth of Islamophobia as well as anti-Semitism. “We will challenge prejudice before it grows, whether in schools, universities or on social media. And we will strengthen the law on disability, homophobic, and transphobic hate crime,” it said.
Now it’s not clear here whether Miliband construes “Isamophobia” as “hatred of Islam” (or Muslims) or as an actual hate crime against Muslims, but “Islamophibia” is conventionally seen not as an act of crime, but an attitude. Yet in the second paragraph above, Miliband equates Islamophobia with hate crime. That’s reprehensible.
To my surprise, there’s already a UK law that comes close to Miliband’s promise: The Racial and Religious Hatred Act passed in 2006. Apparently, though, it doesn’t criminalize criticism of Islam or Muslims, but—similar to restrictions on the U.S.’s First Amendment—only criticism directly aimed at inciting group hatred:
- Section 29A
- Meaning of “religious hatred”
- In this Part “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.
- Meaning of “religious hatred”
- Section 29B:
- (1) A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.
The stirring-up-hatred part apparently doesn’t apply to those Brits, like Pat Condell, who regularly criticize and/or mock Islam, including the LSU students who sold Jesus and Mo shirts. The law in fact seems deeply ambiguous, for what does “stirring up hatred” really mean? Inciting violence, or simply mocking or criticizing a group? How can you suss out someone’s intentions? Were they simply criticizing Islam and Muslims, or trying to get people to hate them as a group? According to many Muslims, these things don’t differ, so intention doesn’t really matter. I’m curious to know if anyone has been prosecuted for “Islamophobia.”
Now Miliband does get credit for emphasizing that Labour is trying to integrate Muslims into British society, and for assuring the Muslim News that he’ll work towards a two-state solution vis-à-vis Israel and Palestine. But he could also be accused of pandering to Muslims, who have historically voted for Labour.
And bless Ceiling Cat, Labour made another misstep! Five Labour Party members (four standing for membership in the European Parliament and one already a member) addressed a gender-segregated Muslim audience in Birmingham. That’s serious political mistake, especially for Labour. The story is reported by today’s Sunday Express:
Parliamentary candidates Tom Watson, Liam Byrne, Khalid Mahmood and Jack Dromey, along with MEP [Member of the European Parliament] Sion Simon, attended the political rally in Birmingham.
Pictures posted on Twitter showed Muslim women sitting in a small cluster on one side of what looked like an Islamic community centre with the men seated opposite.
The meeting took place yesterday morning in Hodge Hill, an inner city district with a large Muslim population.
When challenged by the Sunday Express Mr Mahmood, candidate for Perry Bar, admitted he attended but said: “And?” [JAC: not a good reply!]
When asked whether he thought it appropriate to address a segregated audience, he appeared flustered and said: “I didn’t organise it. You’ll have to speak to the organisers”. [JAC: He might not have organized it, but he didn’t have to address it!]
He made no further comment.
Mr Watson, Mr Dromey and Mr Byrne were unavailable for comment last night.
And here’s an enlarged version of the picture on the right:
This would never fly in the U.S. Imagine a Democratic candidate addressing such an audience: I can’t see how a candidate could do that and not lose. At least we’ve come that far in decrying sexual discrimination, whether or not it’s based on faith.
And of course Labour Party supporters and others on Twi**er excoriated the candidates for tacitly supporting gender segregation:
Labour should stop its knee-jerk pandering and do some soul-searching about the party’s real values. When religious dictates conflict with national laws against gender segregation and discrimination, a stable democratic society requires that civil law take precedence.