“Have you no sense of decency?”: The Labour Party proposes criminalizing “Islamophobia”; candidates address sex-segregated audience

May 3, 2015 • 10:00 am

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.
  • 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.

Here’s the offending tw**t posted yesterday by Siôn Simon, one of Labour’s MEP and a former MP. Big mistake!

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 6.51.19 AM

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:

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 6.54.29 AM Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 6.54.51 AM

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.

h/t: Benjamin

101 thoughts on ““Have you no sense of decency?”: The Labour Party proposes criminalizing “Islamophobia”; candidates address sex-segregated audience

  1. So let me guess, is the leadership of the Labour Party ok with Muslims preaching hatred and mundating murder of non-Muslims, and particularly any secularists who dare criticize any aspect of Islamic belief?

  2. From the outside it looks like the Labour Party is in for a rough time of it with these policies and the image. Attempting to legislate social behavior is generally a bad strategy.

  3. It’s certainly gratifying to see that the reporter nailed him on it and that the comments following show almost universal condemnation. I think there is hope for the UK.

  4. The people who are critical of the sex segregated seating are guilty of a hate crime against Islam :p

  5. Is there a problem with addressing a Muslim audience that *chooses* to sit men separately from women — i.e. if all or most of the audience are comfortable with the arrangement?

    The analogy with segregating by race or sexuality doesn’t really work because we do segregate between men and women in public spaces for certain purposes.

    1. Yes, that would still be a problem. It’s long been established that “separate but equal” is never actually the case.

      The proper response would be, “I’m sorry, but segregation is not something consistent with our values and not something we tolerate. You’re welcome to practice your discriminatory superstitions in private with consenting adults, but I’ll have no part of it. And you’re not welcome to attempt to do so in public, or to impose your discrimination on unwilling partners.”

      Again, as with the dipshits on planes: imagine if the segregation was by skin color. Totally outrageous and intolerable, no? So why is it any less barbaric when it’s by gender?


      1. Segregation by colour always suggests that one race is superior to the other, as was the case in Apartheid era South Africa and segregation era US. But segregation by sex does not always imply that one sex is superior to the other. E.g. the existence of separate boys and girls schools is not taken to suggest that one sex is superior to the other (at least, I’ve never heard that suggested).

        Now you might claim that Islam *does* regard one sex as superior to the other, although of course many Muslims would dispute that claim. I expect, however, the reason for segregation in this case is for maintaining modesty and propriety.

        Although we non-Muslim westerners have different ideas about modesty and propriety with regard to interactions between the sexes, we still do have some standards, which sometimes lead to differential treatment of men and women. For example, we have separate changing rooms, and we might ask for a doctor of our own sex if we have an intimate medical problem.

        So differential treatment of men and women is not something that I think most people would think is objectionable, in and of itself. Whereas we would see differential treatment of people of different races as objectionable, in and of itself.

        I don’t see why it is objectionable for a non-Muslim MP to address an audience of people who have different norms of modesty and propriety than he himself does. I don’t think that, by addressing the audience, he is tacitly endorsing those norms, any more than he is tacitly endorsing their faith or any other aspect of their culture by addressing that audience.

        And I think it would be a real shame if politicians refused to engage with Muslim audiences because they wanted meetings with segregated audience.

        1. Lawrence Krauss was faced with a segregated meeting in London: he refused to speak. Quickly the Muslims mixed the crowd and the meeting went ahead. It seems that they can suspend their own deeply-felt religious convictions when they feel like it. That is why it is objectionable for a non-Muslim Labour MP not to call them out. If an astro-physicist can school them, why on earth can’t a Labour MP? x

        2. E.g. the existence of separate boys and girls schools is not taken to suggest that one sex is superior to the other (at least, I’ve never heard that suggested).

          Sex-segregated schools almost don’t exist any more in the States, with the only examples I can think of being a few Catholic schools here and there…and, even then, they boys and girls typically share a campus.

          And, without exception, every single instance I can think of where adults are separated by gender, it’s been the men discriminating against women. See just yesterday for an example of a reader who, when young, clerked for a federal judge who was horrified to learn that the staff patronized a men’s club and refused to join them.

          There’s no room for that sort of segregation left in today’s society, no matter the intentions.


          1. My point was that men and women are routinely segregated by gender in the west for reasons of modesty — e.g. separate changing rooms and toilets. So segregation on grounds of modesty is not something that anyone is likely to find objectionable, in and of itself. Different cultural groups have different norms regarding modesty, which we might be critical of, but I don’t see that as a reason to disengage with people of that culture, or to refuse to be in spaces where those norms prevail over our own.

            For instance, many non-Muslims are critical of the way some Muslim women dress,for reasons of modesty, but it would be awful to refuse to engage with those Muslim women for that reason, whatever the strength of the objections to the way they dress.

          2. I’m sorry. Are we expecting the women to change clothes in the middle of the lecture? And that the men won’t turn their heads and look if they do?

            And we do object to the full body-sack-and-veil dress mandated by Sharia, for the same reasons we don’t let people get away with wearing ski masks when standing in line at the bank.

            If you want to wear long sleeves, gloves, and an hat, go for it. Just don’t cover your face.

            And if you’re wearing clothing excessively inappropriate for the climate — the proverbial trench coat in summer — expect to get a lot of unwanted but well deserved attention.


          3. “And we do object to the full body-sack-and-veil dress mandated by Sharia, for the same reasons we don’t let people get away with wearing ski masks when standing in line at the bank.”

            I wonder how many Muslim women have ever held up a bank. I somehow don’t think that’s what fuelling most of the objections to Islamic dress.

            Norms of modesty aren’t just about dressing and undressing, even if they’re the most salient ones to us.

          4. There’s something to what you write, neatly summed up by The Artist:


            But, again, at least in the States, you can wear whatever you want, so long as you don’t violate whatever dress codes may be applicable. In public, nearly anything goes — though, again, you will get attention if dressed inappropriately. In a bank, a veil is going to be every bit as much of a problem as a ski mask. On a construction site, loose clothing that could get caught on something will be forbidden, with dresses right out. And so on.

            But all this is irrelevant to the question of whether or not a civilized person should address a segregated audience. And, basically, the answer to that will always be, “NO!”


        3. And if one of the women didn’t agree and tried to sit in the middle of the men’s section? You’re ignoring individual freedom. This segregation, just like racial segregation in the US, is forced.

          1. @nightglare

            All you have to do is ask any Muslim, “Democratic conditions being met, would you agree to sitting next to a member of the opposite sex?” And in nearly all cases their response would be, “Yes.” Of course if it were under sharia conditions, the answer might be the exact opposite. You see I’m not fooled by that form of da’wa and Janus-faced proselytization in the guise of reason.

            This was not a religious meeting: it was a political meeting. And it is simply offensive in a system of one person one vote to separate the sexes. What would be the difference in principle between this and separating the House of Commons by gender instead of party, women to the left, men to the right? I can see no reason why, under this ideology, it shouldn’t be the case. And that’s plain unacceptable. x

          2. I’m not trying to defend their customs, I think it’s fine to criticise them, I just don’t it’s a reason to refuse to engage with them.

          3. And what better way to criticize them than to refuse to engage with them until they grow up and get over their fear of girl cooties?

            I mean, really. Why should we treat them any differently from how we’d treat boys at a schoolyard who refused to let the girls join their game?


          4. Nobody mentioned refusing to engage with them: it’s simple. Demand a de-segregated audience and then hold the meeting. What must the Muslims think of a democratic politician agreeing to speak to a segregated audience? Straight off the bat they know s/he is a hypocrite and unwilling to stand up for his own beliefs before they start.

            Remember left-wing Tony Benn and right-wing Teddy Taylor? Loads of people disagreed with them, but they knew that they meant what they said. And for that they earned respect. And were voted in time after time. x

        4. Gender segregated schools were originally because women were seen as less than men. They were taught different things too, because of their different “capacity”. Even as recently as the 70s, I went to an intermediate school (years 7 and 8) where girls were taught cooking and sewing and boys woodwork and metalwork. The boys weren’t allowed to do cooking or sewing and the girls weren’t allowed to do woodwork or metalwork. Our protests fell on deaf ears.

          In the post Dark Ages West, schools were originally only for boys, and monks and other religious were the only teachers. If girls were taught, it was by private tutors, and often even the best educated were never taught to write; writing was messy and ink on your hands was unfeminine. Women usually had an anamuensis, which of course was also a way of controlling their communication. Further, the amanuensis was usually a male religious, placing further limits.

          One of the first places this changed was the Highlands of Scotland, where all children were routinely taught to read and write. I don’t know (perhaps a Scandinavian reader can confirm), but I think it was the same in Iceland, Sweden, Norway and maybe Finland. Something to do on the long winter nights. Scottish men also learned to knit. William Wallace, for example, as well as English and Gaelic, spoke French and Latin fluently.

        5. But segregation by sex does not always imply that one sex is superior to the other

          Here it obviously does. Are you blind to the evidence? Look at the larger number of rows given to men as opposed to women. Look at the mostly women standing at the back.

          Regardless of whether the women are choosing to sit on the right side of the aisle or not, the person who set up the room and decided which side was for men and which was for women did it in a sexist manner.

    2. I once sat opposite a Saudi woman on a train (in Saudi Arabia) who had a niqab covering her face but had no qualms about getting her breast out to feed her baby.

    3. nightglare, I had similar thoughts. Can we force men and women who don’t want to sit intermingled to do so? Depending on how fundamental the audience is, it may be possible that a lifetime of custom might mean that women would feel uncomfortable sitting among men, and vice versa.

      1. You shouldn’t force them, but again, just look at the distribution of rows on the “men” vs “women” side. They didn’t even bother to hide the unfair treatment in that picture.

        1. Or, perhaps they expected more men than women to show up. And once again, perhaps this is how they always do it.

          I’m certainly not in favor of any kind of sexism, but I’m wondering if it isn’t already entrenched in this group and if a politician should be expected to suddenly change their traditions. How would demanding a change in the seating order differ from say, demanding the women remove their head-coverings?

          1. Thanks for the best wishes on the other thread, Diane, but I disagree with you on this one.

            The meeting was a Labour Party rally, not a meeting organized by local Muslims. So Labour sets the rules for the meeting. Sex segregation in a Socialist party? Unthinkable, and there is a female candidate on the panel. I wonder what she thought, unless of course she’s a pre-Vatican II Catholic.

            What people decide to wear to a political rally is their own business, as long as it doesn’t cause security problems. x

          2. There’s every chance I’m just feeling devil’s-advocate-y here, but the article does say, emphasis mine: “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.”

            So the Labour Party is going to this district, to address these people, in their community center; seems likely that this is how meetings always occur here, and that politicians might worry about upsetting the status quo if they really want to connect with this community.

            Certainly the Islamic traditions here are not to my liking! I’m just wondering if canny politicians who are courting votes would think it appropriate to march in and tell these folks they’re doin’ it rong and insist that they rearrange their own community center…

            That would be fine by me! But I thought today’s mantra, esp. among leftists, was to respect cultural differences, blah, blah, blah…

          3. Well said Diane. I doubt the candidates had any options (other than to refuse to address the meeting, which – in a candidate for election – is self-defeating, and also unfair to everyone, including the women, who have bothered to attend in the hope of informing themselves enough to vote).

            It’s an election candidate’s worst nightmare, being photographed in a ‘compromising’ situation not of their making.

          4. Yeah Diane, the local rag says the event took place at the Diamond Suite in Hodge Hill, a couple of miles from where I was brought up. The business is Indian-run, but nowhere on its website is any indication of that they hire halls only under Islamic rules. For example, from their website:

            “The hall has a generous seating capacity of 270 people in one sitting. There are more seating options available to cater for 600 plus.”

            A local Labour councillor (local govt. rep.) Ansar Ali Khan, and a woman despite the final name, organized the meeting, advertising that there would be a woman-only section.

            Again the local rag reports, ‘A Labour spokesman said: “Labour fully supports gender equality in all areas of society and all cultures.

            “Equally, we support those who are breaking down barriers where inequality remains.”’

            Oleaginous or what?

            Comments on the piece are 2 all, for and against. Farage, the crypto-fascist leader of UKIP, has had a field-day demagoguing about Anglo-Saxons’ hard-fought women’s rights.

            My daughters attend a school in which 70% of the children have Muslim parents: there is never any question of segregation at parents’ evenings.

            We know that we don’t want to introduce sharia into Labour Party practice: it’s bad enough when Rowan Williams spoons up its fundamentalism. x

          5. Ack! You didn’t, by chance, intend to bushwhack me (and Diane)? The original report did say ‘Islamic community centre’ which the Indian-run Diamond Hall presumably is not.

            Still, how much the cannon-fodder, err, candidates knew in advance of Ansir Ali Khan’s seating arrangements is not clear. I don’t know the local demographic, maybe she reckoned the separate seating would attract some of the more ‘traditional’ women who otherwise would not turn out, I don’t know. I quite agree that if segregation is not common in the area then this was a backward move.

          6. I presume this is in response to me, infinite. Yeah, the reason why it got in the news is because it is so unusual. Off to work, now, beyond the broadband. x

          7. On reflection, I take back ‘bushwhack’. I don’t think you were deliberately letting me go rushing up the garden path. It happens sometimes ( – all the time!) when we’re commenting on something and all the facts aren’t out there. Occupational hazard.

          8. So the Labour Party is going to this district, to address these people, in their community center; seems likely that this is how meetings always occur here, and that politicians might worry about upsetting the status quo if they really want to connect with this community.

            Again, just as with seating arrangements on a plane, it’s a good idea to substitute some other “minority” for women and see how it scans.

            Imagine the politician shows up to speak at some gathering and finds the audience segregated by skin color. Do you still “connect with” a “community” of racists? Or do you excuse yourself from their company and let the voting public know that you’re going to do a better job of screening your hosts for speaking engagements?

            If you are going to go to a place like that, it’s gotta be to challenge the audience. The subject of your speech must be why the discrimination they’re practicing in front of you right this minute is evil. Not an easy trick to pull off, but those who could would certainly deserve election.


          9. Maybe I haven’t made clear where we’re talking about here. This isn’t some security-paranoid gathering of cowed PTSD proto-democratists in post-ISIS Fallujah. This is a Socialist meeting organized by a member of the biggest council in England in the second biggest city of a country which contributed so much to the idea of democracy. I thought we were miiiles beyond this stupidity! x

          10. It might be that I’m being a bit dense…help me out, here.

            Are you telling us that this was an official Socialist Party campaign event with official Socialist Party candidates addressing a crowd gathered at the behest of the Socialist Party?

            If so…wow. Mind-boggling. The equivalent of the same thing happening here in the States at a Democratic Party function. Truly inconceivable — and that word does in this case mean what I think it means.


          11. Yes, it’s as simple as that, Ben. This is the party I have voted for every time since I was 18 (I’m 54): this is the party whose leader opposed the First World War, the party that built the National Health Service, which consolidated the post-WWII welfare state, which legalized abortion and which established equal pay (between men and women). x

          12. Wow.


            If the party hopes to survive and retain any sort of credibility, it’s gonna have to come down, hard, on everybody responsible for that fiasco.

            Though Rush Limbaugh would assuredly classify me as a Socialist, and though I’d stand with the Socialists on many issues, I don’t think I’d actually fit in any of the extant parties; all the “political compass” types of tests I’ve ever dallied with put me pretty squarely with the Greens. But it’d be a sad day, indeed, if the Socialists contort themselves into an Islamist party in the name of political correctness….


          13. Dermot:

            “Oleaginous or what?.”

            Oleaginous. 😉

            And thanks for the additional info about the venue. It does put a different slant on the matter.

            “My daughters attend a school in which 70% of the children have Muslim parents…”

            Wow! Is that what we would call a “public school” (free, state-run)?

            “We know that we don’t want to introduce sharia into Labour Party practice…”

            Make that, “anywhere.”

            “This is a Socialist meeting organized by a member of the biggest council in England in the second biggest city of a country which contributed so much to the idea of democracy”

            We can only dream!


            “Do you still “connect with” a “community” of racists?”

            The cynic in me wants to reply, “depends on how badly you need their votes…”

            Dermot’s additional info & background-setting makes me think these pols–alas, for socialists!–have flunked the first rule of politicking–know what you’re walking into.

          14. Diane, yes it’s a state-run school and it’s a real problem, has been for years, how some secondary schools in Brum have become near-ghettoized.

            Education is my business and I once read a case study book by a respected educationalist who was the Education Chief (civil servant) of Brum Education: he lauded a particular school for pages, tracing the improvement of its results and generally bigging it up as a beacon for educational attainment. What he didn’t mention, I later found out, was that the school’s racial profile had radically changed so that it was now made up of 90% kids with Muslim Parents – and this in an extremely racially-mixed area. The piece was intellectually dishonest, not mentioning a striking relevant fact, and raised concerns in me about the direction of Brummie education policy. Look up Trojan Horse on google and you’ll find stories about how Islamists tried to take over the governorship of various local schools: what really happened is dead murky, and the accusations contained one arrant inaccuracy, but there are plenty of headteachers in Brum who speak about Islamist bullying and attempted takeover of schools. Fortunately, not in that of my daughters.

            Brum Council, controlled by Labour for years, has also recently lost a catastrophic legal case. For about 30 years, it was illegally paying women employees less than their male counterparts: costs have come to millions. So that the council is selling off massive pieces of infrastructure, huge exhibition centres, enormous publicly-owned arenas to pay for the corruption. x

          15. Dermot, how very sad all around.

            For some reason I’ve never picked up on the fact that you’re in education. (I probably got hung-up on the rock-band phase. 😉 ) I can hardly think of a more important profession than teaching, and I’ve run across amazing people who do so, but it’s always shocking (though after the first couple dozen times, I suppose one should have learned better) to come across yet another story of educational corruption.

            I hope your daughters are nearing the end of this phase of their schooling; meanwhile I’m sure they’ll come through fine due to the wisdom on the home-front.

            I’m quite afraid of how the Europe/Muslim-immigrants dynamic will play out, and selfishly grateful that our geography is shielding us from similar problems, at least for the time being. (I hope it goes w/o saying that my unease concerns only that faction of refugees, economic or otherwise, that adamantly refuses to assimilate.) One would hope that exposure to state-run education would counteract those desires, but from what you say it sounds like it’s not nearly so simple.

            Over here we face relentless attempts of fundamentalist Christians to take over our school boards. They hide their affiliations determinedly and there’s really no way for the average voter to identify them, a problem exacerbated by the fact that scandalously few voters turn out for these elections in the first place.

            Despite everything, though, I think we still keep a tenuous hold on the historic melting pot idea, though PC relativism has resulted in severe cracks to that foundation.

            Oops, sorry for the tangents. How enormously frustrating that the venal sexism of your school district has resulted in measures that diminish its educational attributes for all children. So it goes.

          16. Yeah, Diane, the pop group struggles on, the album has just come out on Amazon.

            There is a class difference between Muslims in the UK and those in the US. In the latter, they are far more likely to be middle-class in a European sense, professional jobs, higher status etc. I don’t know much about their countries of origin.

            In the UK the majority of Muslims is from the Indian sub-continent and there are far more of them than Hindus. Since the first wave of that immigration in the 60s, it has become far more common to see the descendants of those people wearing Islamic dress-codes. But anecdotally, it looks very much like a class split. There is a significant amount of professionals, doctors, lawyers, teachers, with Indian sub-continent roots and they dress and act no differently to the social norm.

            The lower the class, the more likely you are to wear the burqa, and it is fairly common in the big cities. In addition to that you have a few Somali women, recent immigrants, who wear the burqa with niqab, allowing the eyes to be seen.

            In France, as far as I know, the originating countries of Muslim immigrants are different, the Maghreb. There may be some from Lebanon and Syria. So you will have different cultural practices amongst them and it seems that, like the UK, there is a large proportion of them who are working class, in the European sense. So it’s true that in large parts of Europe Muslims occupy an economically disadvantaged niche. Hence, in part, the reticence in certain sections of the left and in the establishment in general, to criticize Islam: the kicking a man when he’s down idea.

            An example: whenever the BBC News mentions it for the first time in a report, it calls ISIS ‘so-called Islamic State’. That’s like calling the U.S. ‘the so-called United States’. That might have had some traction around these parts in 1812, but it doesn’t really fly now.

            Yeah. PC really is a problem. Far worse in our media, because the U.S. has a much more multi-voiced system (although, contra Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I still prefer ours, we’ve got David Attenborough, ha!) I remember studying the politics of multi-culturalism in the early 80s and thinking, “Uh-oh, what if your neighbour simply holds rotten ideas?” I should have been more vocal: I’m a slow learner. x

          17. On the use of ‘so-called Islamic State’: I think that’s because it isn’t a state, according to anyone but itself. The BBC didn’t refer to the group that blew up the US marines in Beirut as ‘so-called Islamic Jihad’, they were just ‘Islamic Jihad’.

          18. Possible, but, imo, not likely. In all subsequent references to ISIS within the same report they call it ‘Islamic State’: thereby having placed in the viewer’s mind the idea that ISIS does not really represent a credible interpretation of Islam.

            If we went with your interpretation, Barney, surely the BBC should call it ‘Islamic so-called State’? Maybe even ‘so-called Islamic so-called State’. ‘Self-declared Islamic State’ would cover it, with no sly BBC editorializing that ISIS could not possibly represent a reasonable reading of Islamic texts.

            And Islamic Jihad was 32 years ago: things have moved on since then. x

          19. ‘Islamic so-called State’ – ugh. That would be an incredibly ugly attempt at English. I’d hope they’d never phrase it like that; the name that group has claimed for itself is ‘Islamic State’, and inserting words into the middle of it would be both editorialising and an awful example of how to speak.

            If you choose to believe the BBC is taking sides on the slightly controversial bit – whether it’s ‘Islamic’ – but going against the universal opinion – that it is not a ‘state’ – then that’s up to you. I don’t look for reasons to moan about the BBC when the simple explanation it that they are taking a reasonable approach.

          20. I’ll make this my last word on this, Barney. The Saudi Arab News is perfectly willing to call ISIS ‘Islamic State’: Al-Jazeera English goes all the way – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

            The Beeb is – how to put it kindly? – more diffident. The BBC phrase ‘so-called Islamic State’ most often refers not to the geography under its control but to the political movement, not to the state apparatus but to the doers of the deed. Hence its conscious, imo, attempt to distance Islam from the atrocities. x

        2. In the pictures I’ve seen, there’s a clear ‘men-only’ section on the left (as seen from the stage), and ‘women-only’ section on the right, which are about the same size (the aisle between them is roughly down the middle of the hall). Behind them is a section of seating that stretches across the room. It’s so far back that you can’t see people clearly; there are definitely some men in it, but is it possible there are women too? Do we know if the setup was ‘all women can only sit in the women-only section’ (which is just the one side near the front), or was it ‘men-only, women-only, and mixed sections’?

          While a women-only section is annoying, if there was a chance to sit in a mixed section too, then it seems more like a bit of nonsense I can understand a candidate would not withdraw over.

  6. At the risk of sounding like Sarah Palin, up till 2 years ago I could see Liam Byrne MP’s house from my living-room window. He moved. But the key is doing down Miliband’s daft and pernicious Islamophobia law: and we’ll see how it crumbles cookie-wise in the local papers and radio, but that reaction to the segregated meeting on twitter is encouraging.

    I don’t know what motivates so many on the left to pander to Islam: I bet there is a variety of motivations. But I am pretty certain that a lot of the left actually don’t know what tehy are talking about when it comes to the effect of dogma on a person’s actions. x

    1. I don’t know what motivates so many on the left to pander to Islam.

      Votes! Ditto with UK politicians pandering to Christianity.

  7. Milliband is proposing to clamp down on anti-Islamic hate crimes, and the incitement thereof, in the same way that he plans to clamp down on anti-Semitic attacks.

    That seems fair enough to me.

    To most people the term “Islamophobia” is a direct parallel of the term “anti-Semitism.”

    1. Not really. Many Jews consider themselves jewish by birth, or because of their ‘race’, but not religion. I know people who call themselves Jewish but don’t keep the Sabbath, eat Kosher etc. Didn’t the Nazis consider somebody jewish is one great grand parent was jewish? i.e. one eighth jewish.

      Muslims don’t seem to be ‘Muslim’ by birth.

      Of course all this is nonsense. ‘Race’ doesn’t really exist as a binary thing – jew/non jew, black/white. Best exposed as the crass nonsense by the description of Barack Obama as the ‘first black president’.

      But people who are lazy love the soup of identity politics. Both on the ‘right’ and the ‘left’.

      Personally I don’t think you should be allowed to kick somebody’s head in. Full stop. Whether you’re doing it because of the colour of their skin or their religious belief is irrelevant.

      But I think you should be able to say the somebody’s religion is stupid.

    2. Which is probably the way it should be. Our contention is that taking exception to the horrors of Islam doctrine and Sharia law is NOT the same thing as bigotry toward Muslims themselves. If there were a Jewish parallel, I guess it would be something like criticizing the Torah.

      The trouble is that politicians, modern leftists, and esp. many Muslims themselves fail to make the distinction. Which then interferes with OUR right to speak out against their odious theology.

  8. Ed Milliband narrowly defeated his brother David for the leadership of the Labor Party. He has been sucking up to the Muslim population in Great Britain for a considerable period of time and is a strong critic of Israel. I think it is fair to characterize him as an Uncle Tom Jew.

    1. I don’t think it’s fair at all. He’s not a practising Jew (he’s an atheist). So, to charecterise him in that way, as if you expect him to behave in a certain way because of his heritage, is pretty distasteful.

      1. I don’t think it’s fair at all. He’s not a practicing Jew (he’s an atheist).

        Our distinguished host here is also a non-practicing Jew and an atheist. However, Prof. Coyne doesn’t bow in obeisance before Islamic extremism, as does Milliband.

    2. I checked Miliband’s Wikipedia page this morning for other reasons. (An article about the election and its consequences on EU, which didn’t mention Miliband’s position.)

      As I remember it, Miliband makes himself out as very supportive of Israel but also critical when criticism is warranted. My impression is that he claimed to be acting much like Jerry.

      1. That’s not the way that the media in Israel see it. Their conclusion is that Milliband goes out of his way to be critical of Israel, well beyond the leaders of Britain’s NATO partners. This includes President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Harper, French President Holland, current British Prime Minister Cameron, and German Chancellor Merkel. The folks in Israel appear to strongly prefer Cameron to Milliband.

        1. It’s easier to be critical of any foreign government when you’re not in power. When you are leading your country, a certain circumspection is required, whatever your personal opinion.

  9. In a somewhat similar vein, the newly elected leader Ebba Busch Thor [how is that for a confusing name! =D] for the marginal* swedish religious populist party (started by episcopalians) Kristdemokraterna has gone “US fundamentalist” by attacking abortion rights. She wants to impose “a free conscience” law.

    [* ~ 4 % of the necessary 4 %, usually saved by conservative “big brother” voters to keep the numbers of the Right block up.]

    But similarly to how UK already has a dubious “hatred” act, Sweden – like the majority of european nations – already has such a dubious “freedom of conscience” option in the law from way back when abortion was controversial. The balance was that medical personnel could opt out of a valid medical procedure _that they train for and are supposed to perform_, but on the other hand that they could in no way make their opinion visible to the patient. The judicial basis goes back to the European Convention on Human Rights granting freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion.

    [ http://www.svd.se/opinion/brannpunkt/samvetsfrihet-finns-redan-i-abortlagen_4533480.svd ]

    Now, as one can expect, this freedom of conscience right has taken a bite out of freedom of expression rights. Busch Thor pushed her agenda so much that a doctor, Dan Johannesson, pointedly responded on his private Facebook pages. He said he would opt out of treating christians, because they ‘harbored a demonic spirit that he felt could hurt him’ (IIRC), anti-theist as he is.

    Now Johannesson has stepped down as director for the hospital he works at, because the hospital wouldn’t support his freedom of speech rights against the criticism and mistaken concern among patients. “The hospital obviously can’t support this…”

    [ http://www.svt.se/nyheter/regionalt/smaland/dan-johannesson-slutar ]

    I can see what happened to Johannesson could happen to me. :-/

  10. It is woolly thinking by Mr Milliband and others in the Establishment that has created the (hopefully transient) rise of UKIP.
    If this party achieves any kind of success in the forthcoming UK election the lid may well come off the racial melting pot.

    1. Meanwhile, Anjem Choudary and his supporters are telling Muslims not to vote at all, because they oppose the UK system. Cries of “F**k democracy” are standard at their rallies.

  11. I am getting tired of hearing words like “Islamophobia” or “homophobia.” It is just an assertion that anyone opposed to the speaker’s position must have a mental disorder. There are certainly people who have an irrational *fear* of Muslims or homosexuals, but lumping everyone who disagrees with you into that category is a pretty cheap shot.

    1. You seem to misunderstand how these terms are used. Both refer to attacks on the rights etc. of people. This is differentiated from opposition to political and social ideas, which is perfectly acceptable. So it is islamophobic to say anyone ‘looking islamic’ (i.e. in garb) should be searched when they enter a government building. It is not islamophobic to defend ones’ right to draw Mohammed by doing so.
      You are probably tired of hearing the ‘homophobic’ label because, frankly, most of the right’s opposition to SSM is homophobic. The whole position is comes down to a desire to treat gay people differently from straight people.

  12. Best comment: “This is quite right. That Watson chap would have been aroused to a sexual frenzy if he saw mixed seats.”

    1. That guy is serious. He a despicable activist for actual real Sharia, including death for all the usual suspects.
      He has just called for Pamela Geller to be tried and killed.
      He at least is honest and up front, he makes no bones about removing democracy and implementing all the primitive requirements of Islam.
      This is the crap these politicians are siding with.

  13. I am usually sympathetic to PCC’s views on these matters, like men demanding segregated seats on planes on religious grounds. But I think there’s a little bit of zealotry in this case.

    Politicians in democratic societies are there – at least nominally – to serve/represent citizens. Is it really desirable that a politician from a major political party should refuse to speak to a significant section of society because s/he finds some of its customs objectionable?

    As a Brit, I find the idea of serving/representing a section of the population that believes that it has a god-give/constitutional right to wander round the local shopping mall carrying a lethal weapon deeply abhorrent, but I guess that US politicians who hold similar views (and probably avoid expressing them, otherwise they might have to get a real job) accept that this is part of the constituency they have to address.

    If you’re in politics, your job is to win over the people you don’t like and who don’t like you. In a couple of recent posts, Jerry, you celebrated winning over a couple of people with WEIT. Would it have been useful to withhold your book from JWs or Mormons until they took off their special underwear or whatever?

    1. I’m just attempting to say a couple of things I don’t get about your comments. Some of your questions seem to answer themselves with the fact that Prof. Coyne is not a politician so he would not be acting like a politician. On the gun question this is certainly true. To some of us the lack of gun regulation in the U.S.A. is disgusting. But the politicians are gutless and are afraid of the NRA.

      Regarding your last paragraph, I just do not understand it. Lets just say your last comment is a poor joke maybe.

      1. I think John Crisp’s last point is plain enough. In an election meeting your job (as a candidate) is to explain your policies to the voters. Refusing to talk until they mingle is not going to get you off to a good start with that. Hence the ‘underpants’ comment.

        Should the candidates also have demanded the women take their headscarves off? That would be entirely as relevant.
        If, as an atheist, one of us was debating evolution in a Catholic church hall, would we demand that all the crucifixes be covered?
        I think the reality is, the candidates have to take things as they find them and make the best job they can of it.

        1. I think it would’ve been perfectly reasonable to at least demand (ahead of time; not once everyone is seated) the same number of seats be allocated to the left and right side of the aisle. Because just look at that picture; it was clear they allocated more seating to men than to women.

          1. Again, in practical terms, I expect the candidates took the stage after most of the audience was seated.

            I agree the organisers should have divided the seating more equitably (had they known how many of each would turn up – from the standing crowd at the back I’d say they may have got a lot more people than expected). But I wouldn’t criticise the candidates for being caught out by this. Quite likely next time they will ask to be informed about the seating arrangements ahead of time. I’m guessing now but I expect each candidate might attend a dozen meetings in the course of the campaign – he/she wouldn’t normally be expected to know the logistic details of the meeting.

      2. A further thought occurs. If I was attending a meeting – like that one – and someone asked me to please sit over there, I’d probably comply. It’s their hall. If I was attending a public meeting and someone (a Muslim or an orthodox Jew) asked me to move I’d tell him where to go. When in Rome and all that stuff…

    2. Win over to what? Do you see an attempt by Labour to argue for British values? I don’t. It is all well and good to say that you have to appeal to a particular group before you can try to reform it, but that only holds as long as you don’t lose yourself in the process.

      I can stand in a room and defer to ‘no restrictions’ NRA voters all day long, but your argument actually necessitates a challenge along the way. At some point I would actually need to give them a piece of my mind. When are we going to see that from labour?

  14. Those who think it’s okay to address a gender-segregated meeting because of culture, are assuming that the separation is what the audience wants. Perhaps even a majority are desperate for someone to speak up against the status quo, but none feel they can because of whoever dominates their community.

  15. Prosecutions under the ‘inciting religious hatred’ section are rare – one or two a year. An FOI request showed the statistics up to 2011. The National Secular Society said one new prosecution had been brought by the end of 2009 – a BNP member blaming Muslims for the heroin trade. The Crown Prosecution Service said it brought 1 prosecution in the 2011/12 reporting year, and that seems to have been against Bilal Ahmad for ” threatening comments about Hindus” (successful, though the ‘soliciting murder’ charge was more serious, and there was also a conviction for possessing terrorist publications – he got a 12 year sentence in total).

    The CPS report points out Section 29J of the Act:
    “Protection of freedom of expression

    Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.”

    There was a lot of controversy when the law was brought in; the eventual wording does a fairly good job, IMO, of being clear it’s inciting hatred of a group of people that is the problem, not insult of a religion or its beliefs, which is allowed.

    What Miliband is proposing to change, I don’t know.

    1. Many thanks Barney, that is very clear.

      I too have no idea what Miliband is up to, but with 4 days to go I think it is a safe bet that he is trying desperately to hang on to the ‘ethnic minority’ vote that has historically (allegedly) gone to Labour.

      If Labour is elected I predict that they will make no changes whatever to the Act.

      1. I also found out what happened with the ‘heroin’ claim – he was found not guilty, and 3 years later he sent the leaflets out again (possibly only to local councillors). The first link give an idea of the content – it’s a fairly ridiculous claim (‘millions of deaths’, ‘worse than slavery’), but nothing about violence against them, just “Muslims should be held to account with condemnation heaped upon them”.

  16. And that is why, after 32 years of being a Labour supporter, I will never vote for them ever again.

  17. What would have happened had one of the politicians been a woman? Would the men in the room have stuck their fingers in their ears? Walked out? Would they disregard anything a woman says? Hm.

  18. On the other hand, there have been female presidents/prime ministers of Muslim countries (unlike the US…) so maybe not.

    1. Yet none of those women leaders covered their faces and they were able to sit down at the same table as men for meetings.

      1. I think that just reinforces that there are as many different flavours of (nominal) Islam as there are of (nominal) Xtianity.

    2. And in many of those countries women can still be publicly beaten to death for adultery, blasphemy, and apostasy. So, fat lot of good a female autocrat did them.

  19. A number of commenters here seem to be giving Miliband the benefit of a doubt, saying that he has good (if misguided) intentions, or is simply pandering to the Muslim block vote, with no intention of actually introducing a law

    I’m not so sure, for the following reasons:

    In 2006 the Labour government tried to pass a bill that would have made “deliberately insulting a religion” a criminal offence.

    The House of Lords sensibly removed this provision from the bill. However, the government tried to get the “deliberately insulting a religion” part of the bill specifically reinstated. Luckily, they lost – but only by one vote.

    Ed Miliband was part of a government that tried to introduce a modern day blasphemy law in the UK.

    Ed Miliband personally voted not just for the initial bill, but voted again for the explicit reintroduction of the blasphemy clause.

    In the UK we have myriad laws to protect people and property from harm, as well as a number of anti-discrimination laws, and a specific law against religiously aggravated hate speech or violence.

    Why then is Ed Miliband talking of make Islamophobia a crime? What does he hope to achieve that isn’t covered under the extensive existing laws?

    Could it be that he wants to revisit 2006 and have a third try at making “deliberately insulting a religion” a crime?

  20. “Zero tolerance” is a meaningless standard in the world of due process, unless Labour wish to get rid of that.

    I like the quote from Judge Welch.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *