Sunday, December 12, 2004

Is Britain Becoming 'Theocracy-Lite'?

Yesterday I mentioned the British Home Secretary David Blunkett's proposal to outlaw "inciting religious hatred". The law is much more sweeping than I may have let on. It would basically outlaw all criticism of religion in the UK. Here are three excellent articles that explain it. One article even became an example of why this is such a horrible idea.

First, on Saturday Charles Moore wrote this for the Telegraph.

Was the prophet Mohammed a paedophile? The question is sometimes asked because one of his wives, Aisha, was a child when he married her. As Barnaby Rogerson gingerly puts it in his highly sympathetic recent biography (The Prophet Muhammad, Little, Brown): "…the age disparity was considerable: she was only nine while Muhammad was 53". ...

To me, it seems anachronistic to describe Mohammed as a child-molester. The marriage rules of his age and society were much more tribal and dynastic than our own, and women were treated more as property and less as autonomous beings. ... I raise the question, though, because it seems to me that people are perfectly entitled - rude and mistaken though they may be - to say that Mohammed was a paedophile, but if David Blunkett gets his way, they may not be able to.

To me that seems a reasonable, even unremarkable article. I read it yesterday and didn't think anything of it. Flash forward to today's Independent: Moore's paedophile 'slur' angers Muslims.

Charles Moore, former editor of The Daily Telegraph, provoked a storm of criticism from British Muslims yesterday for an article in which he championed the right to call the Prophet Mohamed a paedophile.

Responding with a mixture of astonishment and fury, Muslims yesterday described the remarks as inflammatory and deliberately provocative. Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, the main voice of British Islam, said he was astonished that "a journalist and former editor with such wide experience could stoop so low".

Re-read the first passage. He didn't call Muhammed a paedophile or child rapist. He even wrote that such accusations were "rude and mistaken" but the Muslims are pissed off anyway. Notice it is not even the criticism of Muhammed that angers them (the author was defending Mo' against the kiddie rapist beef) but the mere mention of anything that presents Islam in an unfavorable light. And the most sensative Muslim gets to determine what is unfavorable. More or less the Muslims in Britain are saying, "Praise Islam, flatter Allah, respect Muhammed or shut the hell up, infidel!"

Just how far would this Pythonesque law go. This article in the Times spells it out using quotes from famous works.

First, the law. The “publication, distribution or display” of “written material”, says Mr Blunkett, is to be an offence if, “having regard to all the circumstances, the material is likely to be heard or seen by any person in whom it is likely to stir up religious hatred.”

As we never tire of reminding ourselves, you can get away with verbal aggression towards Christianity which would be considered unacceptable if directed towards Islam. It follows that the less tolerant any religious group is of criticism or mockery, the greater the protection the proposed new law will offer them. But these may be the very faiths or sects which ought to be confronted ...

What the Home Secretary is proposing is theocracy-lite (I should copyright that term). First, the government outlaws "inciting religious hatred." Later there will be more legalisms to determine which heresies incite religious hatred, which blasphemies should be outlawed, which deviations are criminal. In the end, religious consideration direct secular law.

At the very core of many faiths lies a kind of hatred of and a tremendous insult to non-believers. How else can you characterise the teaching that unbelievers are eternally damned? The very word “infidel” is hateful.

But don't count on those who spew 'infidel' at every turn to be prosecuted. For all the efforts to appear even-handed, this law is intended to "protect" Islam from those arrogant Brits who dare to insult it. This is the first step toward dhimmitude. Know your place, limey-kufr. Know your place, dhimmi.


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