Saturday, 21 March 2009


I was glad there was freedom for people to demonstrate when the troops returned from Afghanistan to Luton recently. I disagreed fundamnetally with the demonsrators but I am glad we live in a democracy that allows dissent.

I am though disturbed at how ignorant people are of Islam. We all know about Catholics and Protestants. When I interview students applying for placements at work in the office of a Member of the European Parliament, I often ask them to tell me what they know about the main strands of Islam. These are some of our brightest graduates from top universities who will typically have studied History or Politics and graduated with good degrees.

Ask them to tell you what they know about Shias, and Sunnis and more than half do not know.
Throw in a reference to what problems Wahhabiism brings to the Middle East peace process and they are usually lost. Probe them about Alevis in Turkey and they are confused. Suggest that Sufiism is largely about mysticism, and it is a sorry I don’t know.
These are all bright young people. They can happily talk about Catholics, Mormons, Methodists and Baptists. Some of our finest young minds who have determined views on current political issues. I don’t mind whether they are for or against intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. What I do mind is that most of them talk confidently about what Muslims in Iraq or Gaza want, without knowing what type of Muslim they are. Most have no concept of the internal tensions and the many different strands of Islam. Our media are worse with a very simple definition of Muslims, quiet/normal and “extremist”.

All credit to Tony Blair that he read the Koran, I have a copy but have only glanced through it. My knowledge is very limited. There are 2 million Muslims in Britain and yet most British people see them as one homogenous group. The reality is that like British Christians there are many and varied different groupings.

What saddens me most is when people who should know better make simplistic generalisations. The most notable of this lazy thinking has been Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury who has proclaimed support for Sharia Law.

He does not even begin to understand how offensive what he says is. It is a bit like saying all Methodists, Baptists, Catholics etc will have to go to Anglican churches in future, and have separate religious courts if they wish. It is patronising not least because many people born Muslim are agnostic or atheist just like many people born as Christians.

I support the campaign against Sharia law in Britain, One Law For All, a simple phrasing but one we surely all should agree to?

I would ask you to sign their petition to oppose this attempt to bring religion into our British secular traditions.

Do you agree with these statements?

· We call on the UK government to recognise that Sharia and all religious laws are arbitrary and discriminatory against women and children in particular. Citizenship and human rights are non-negotiable.

· We demand an end to all Sharia courts and religious tribunals on the basis that they work against and not for equality and human rights.

· We demand that the law be amended so that all religious tribunals are banned from operating within and outside of the legal system

I hope so, please sign here.


  1. Have one law for all - yes, why not.

    That means:

    No special dispensations to accomodate religious practices such as the ritual slaughter of animals and the wearing of clothing that does not conform to legal requirements (eg turbans in place of safety helmets).

    Removal of the C of E's privileged status i.e. disestablishment.

    No dispensations for parents to remove their children from classes on the grounds of religious objections to what is taught.

    That should do for a start, or is it have a go at Islam week? And, no, I'm not a moslem, just a member of the Broad Church of Cynics.

  2. Whats your opinion of the MCB, particularly in its role as primary Muslim representative body? Its interesting that the very point about Muslim representatives was discussed on Question Time two shows ago.

    As for Rowan Williams, the unfortunate thing about it is that misreading of his comments that led to the controversy. All the public heard was that he wanted Shariah law (and with that the worst aspects weve come across like beheadings in the most fundamental of groups) and it snowballed from there. A lot of the problem here comes from a failure to understand what Shariah means.

  3. I am not an Islamophobe but would oppose Sharia law to the bitter end. This is a law that would over-ride UK and EU law allowing the stoning of adulterous women and, carried to extremes, amputation of the right hand for criminals etc. I know that still happens in some Muslim countries and I consider it a barbaric punishment. We have all to accept that in the West the law has moved on from what was acceptable in a nomadic, desert-dwelling population.

  4. Anon 16.40 slaughter is difficult, if you ban it, it will be done privately, also done by othodox Jews as well.
    Disestablishment, yes the 25 CoE Bishops in the House of Lords is wrong. No catholics etc.
    Schools? I wouldn't have religious ones.
    James can I double check what you mean by MCB please Muslim Brotherhood, want to get my acronyms right?
    Anon 17.46 My point is the vast majority of Muslims in the world do not live by Sharia Law, they oppose it just like we do. That point never seems to get through enough.

  5. If ritual slaughter is banned Mark then it will be illegal not "difficult", and those performing it will be criminals, whatever their religious opinions.

    Does your comment "No catholics etc" mean that you wish to repeal the 1829 Catholic Relief Act?

    Unluckily, we do have religion in schools, by act of Parliament, so that's another ban needed.

    Have you thought through your ideas carefully? I think not.

    Anon 16.40

  6. I think Sharia law is awful, but then again so do a lot of Muslims, I am lucky enough to have friends who are Muslim and the Quran is very definent about womens rights and very progressive, Sharia is actually cultural not religious, to my understanding, I haven't studied the subject, but I have 2 christian friends one from Iraq and one fom India, both subsribe to their cultural values, as in arranged marrages ect, but both agree with women being educated and having freedom, as do my Muslim friends, and I have been invite to a Muslim friends wedding and I was an honorey man so I could attend his reception, unfortunatly I couldn't attend but my other female friends who where "honary men" actually found themselves upstairs enjoying the womens reception and said it was actually brilliant fun the women were free in their conversations without men being embarrest! and even young girls where included in on these conversations, put it this way my mum was a midwife but I didn't know the half of what happens to you when pregnant!! that said I enjoy male company and it dosn't turn my head or inflame my passions when talking to men who arn't my husband.
    so what I am trying to say is don't mix up religion with culture and Sharia is a very cultral thing and let not forget that less than 100 yrs ago women where tying themselves to railings to get the vote, and that is why I always vote.

  7. It's a bit rich to start this now after 12 years of Labour bending over backwards to appease Muslim groups. The failed 70's Polytechnic hard left are in power and have used that power to systematically dismantle any notion of what, and I say it without reservation, the dominant culture feels about itself.

    If the people and the institutions hadn't been continually side-lined by Nu Labour, Sharia wouldn't even be on our radar.

    Look at what happened in Luton as a perfect example of the society that your soon to be jobless leaders have created. Choudary and his supporters should have been arrested for breach of the peace at the very least. Were they? Of course not. Every time you give in to extremists they see it as a victory. Is it any wonder that we're in the prepostorous position of having to sign petitions against the establishment/continuance of medieval kangaroo courts in the very country that created the very model of a judiciary that has largely served us so well for so long.

    After 12 years in power Mark, it is clear that Labour has disengaged with the public. You seem incapable of judging the public mood. This is why we're seeing breakthroughs for the knuckle-draggers of the BNP.

    Furthermore, by allowing, and I'm choosing my words here, Islamism (careful enough?)is forcing people to talk about 'banning religion' in all walks of public life. Christians, Protestants, Jews, Hindu's, Sikhs etc etc are not at their extremist ends, seeking to set up a caliphate, blow us to smithereens, stone women to death or throw homosexuals from mountains.

    You're probably too young to have been there in the 1980's Mark, but your party was almost ripped apart by the practice of entryism. Small unrepresentative groups mobilised to sway opinion and policy.

    I couldn't stand the old windbag but Kinnock did with his enemy within what none of your current crop are capable of in relation to the likes of Bakri, Choudary and the rest. He publicly faced them down.

    Now instead of starting a petition, why doesn't the government just stand up for the quiet majority of people the 56 million who aren't muslim and the 2 million who are and deal with this cancer.

    Finally, you said that you were glad that they were able to demonstrate in Luton. Well can I remind you about shouting fire in a crowded theatre?

  8. Mark, some time ago when commenting on the Manston debate, you said that it wasn't an issue on the doorsteps of your ward. No-one was opening the door to you and demanding you hear their opinion because apparently they didn't have one.

    Can I infer with this petition which you're championing that the residents of Northwood have been beating a path to your door on the Sharia issue?

    Or have you just joined the weird and wonderful world of Hazel Blears?

  9. 'Our British secular traditions'

    Er, wasn't Christian faith at the heart of those who founded your party?

    Aren't all Western Democracies based on Judeo-Christian values?

    Perhaps you think we should all face Brussells when praying?

  10. I think you make a valuable point Mark.

    But it should be applied to our artificial, politically correct brigade created, concept of "Communities".

    You criticise young people who went through an education process which endorsed a communities model of society.

    In reality of course there are no such things as "Gay community", "Afro Caribbean community", "Muslim community",

    Our society is no better than Hitler as far as label hanging goes. Instead of a Yellow Star of David badge we hang various "Community badges" to classify folk.

    In so doing we fly in the face of our hard won Common Law tradition which says we are all equal, we all have equal rights to enjoy peace and we all have duties to preserve the Peace of others.

    In other words a Common Law system to which seeing diversity is aberrant. All are equal. All entitled to enjoy peace.

    The beauty of our system is that we do not have to nose into the belief systems of other people. All we need is a Common adherence to rights of peace. That is why it is called COMMON. That which is agreed by all irrespective of religion to be right.

    The fact is that the new age sociologists made it a bad career move to seek to argue against their broad label hanging.

    In Ipswich in the 60s there lived a lot of Barbardians and Jamaicans. A senior police officer wondered why Barbadians tended to respect Common Law Rights to Peace whereas Jamaicans tended not to.

    This became a legitimate study in my view because the Senior Officer was a sworn officer of the Queens Peace. He started looking at the Coromante origins of Jamaicans and the history of Jamaican Coromantes being used as mercenaries by the ousted Spanish against the invading British.

    Whereas in Barbados there were African slaves but also Irish and West Country whites who had upset the establishment of the day.

    That senior officer was very soon pulled into the PC line. Officially nowadays of postwar enlightenment there is ONE Afro Caribbean Community. It makes teaching constables unlawful respect for diversity courses easier.

    There is one law for all. Study of belief or origin is legitimate in the context of studing why certain people may have difficulty adhering to Law of the Realm.

    Our current PC led situation is that the enforcement of law is now varied according to ethnicity or belief of the accused.

    Understanding is not an end of itself (Your interview situation).

    Understanding for a reason and to an objective is a worthy end.

    Natural Justice is our way for the law to adapt itself to the Common interest. It already has provision to consider any influence be it Masonic (good on Laws of Distress in my view) or Sharia.

    If a Sharia influence won its way into our law it would not be Sharia Law. It would be Law of the Realm.

    If it aint broke don't fix it.

  11. I would like to tell two stories and then draw a conclusion Mark.

    I worked part time as a bouncer in Ramsgate years ago. We employed two Muslim door stewards. Both were utterly loyal, fair, firm, friendly but adamant. Ideal men.

    One of these one night gave me a lift home. As we drove up Boundary Road in Ramsgate at about 3 AM we saw a young lad in pyjamas frantically trying to wave down a car to stop.

    My Muslim friend stopped. It transpired that the lad had been left in charge of three younger siblings for the night and had disturbed burglars in their home.

    My friend rushed into the accommodation (which was licensed premises). It appears that the burglars ran as a fire exit was open.

    The Thanet bouncing and boxing circles will know who my mate was. We called him Pharaoh.

    In fact if the burglars had been acting to protect children who were not properly protected by parents they were in no danger from Pharaoh. As he explained perhaps they were stealing to feed their families. But if they come across a greater wrong (than stealing) such as leaving children vulnerable they must put it right.

    But if they were still intent on stealing and indifferent to the plight of the frightened child then they were in the most deadly danger from Pharaoh who was as the saying goes a right handful who would have it with anyone. A fighter in his blood and a good man.

    Anyway I phoned police. They turned up but Pharaoh thought their attitude too indifferent to the need, in his faith, to act as the parent to protect the children. So he decided that he would stay the night till their parents got home. The Police asked me if I could persuade him to leave.

    No. Pharaoh is right by English ways of life as well mate. Get a Police woman out here to act as parent or we both stay here till the parents get home.

    They got a police woman to act as parent and we left.

    Pharaohs faith (Islam) gave him a doctrine and a sense of right. The certainty with which he adhered to it is uncomfortable to we English because he would fight to uphold the position he took (and Thanet Police did not have the numbers or men to stop old Pharaoh on a mission) . But was he right ? Yes.

    More recently I met "Ben" a professional rugby player. A giant Maori. I met him whilst he was doing charity work. He explained that his tribal customs require him to pay respect to the land. He was fortunate enough to have health and strength and to earn mney from what he loved. Rugby, so he paid respect to the English land where he played his rugby professionally.

    He had been in trouble in New Zealand for beating up men at a Mosque and burning their Mosque down. Ben had the hump because the men in the Mosque had lied. He was happy to admit to beating them up and burning their Mosque down. But they lied that it was for racist or religious intolerance reasons.

    The Maoris did it because the Mosque users failed to observe Maori Common Law. To the Maori it is a big no no to celebrate the hurt caused to innocents. A Maori heard the men in the Mosque celebrating the 9.11 twin towers attack.

    He fetched a few Maoris who entered the Mosque and explained that they must not celebrate harm to innocents on Maori land. Welcome to build a Mosque there but must respect certain Common Laws of the land. The Mosque users would not stand corrected so they got beaten up dragged out and their Mosque burnt down.

    I think it was Billy Connolly who commented on the strange fact that Maoris and Scottish Highland Regiments seemed to get on extremely well in between battles. I think I can see why. Maoris and Jocks are very similar in outlook.

    When I told Ben about the Pharaoh story Ben said "Sounds like Pharaoh is a good man. Bet he wouldn't celebrate the harm to innocents"

  12. Anon 16.40 and 20.20 None of these things need bans and if people want to educate their children religiously that sould be their right. I think either all education should be secular, or funding should be equally split as that is fair. At present only Catholics and Anglicans get access to religious education nationwide.

    As announced today I would be happy for our monarch to be a Catholic, or any other faith for that matter.

    Anon 02.22 disagree with pretty much everything.

    James I am not a fan of the Muslim Council of Britain.

    Anon 10.09 taking my words out of context, so your comment is wrong. Read the top, my personal views. Mostly I write on Kent/Thanet but whatever I want too.

    Anon 10.14 some Christians yes, but also Jews, Athiests and others too - all welcome. The classic staement is that the Labour Party owes more to Methodism than Marxism. The point is no Methodist has been our monarch and there are no Methodist schools.