Monthly Archives: June 2009

  Helen Martin in The Scotsman commenting on the burqa and equality:

If we are going to rank clothes by offensiveness I would put fat girls in crop tops and low slung minis or sausage-skin jeans way above the burkha. . . which is not to say I don’t find them both equally ridiculous.

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  The Guardian reports today on the challenge the BNP is presenting to extant race hate legislation with the Crown Prosecution Service unable to prosecute the party for leaflets (pictured) that are overtly racist but which fall short of the requirements of the law on incitement to racial hatred.

Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, told the Guardian that, “Under the law, it has been extremely difficult to mount a prosecution against extremism and hate speech … But with the rise of the BNP, and the subsequent rise in racist attacks and the fear the party’s leaflets can provoke, it is essential we are given the tools to deal effectively with this threat.”

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  Setting a new low for publications lacking in academic rigour, Civitas produces another questionable report by Denis MacEoin entitled: ‘Sharia Law or ‘One Law For All’?

The report is covered extensively in today’s press (Daily Mail, Daily Express, Telegraph), both in news items and leader columns (Daily Express, Mail), with the Mail splashing it across the front page. And the Daily Express follows its front page last week, ‘Ban the burqa in Britain’, with this poll question in today’s paper:


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  ENGAGE has learnt that Azad Ali, the Muslim civil servant who was suspended from his job at HM Treasury following a witch hunt agitated by (surprise, surprise) amongst others the anti-Muslim website Harry’s Place and the Mail on Sunday, is back at work after having been cleared by a Civil Service investigation into the scurrilous allegations leveled against him. 

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Alex Massie writes a marvellous piece in The Spectator this week, ‘The Muslim Menace to Our British Nationality. For Real!’.

Drawing on parallels from British history on the majority’s prejudicial and bigoted views towards other groups in society, Massie shows how attitudes towards Muslims in Britain have a precedent in the views and attitudes Britons have in the past displayed towards Irish Catholics. 

He writes:

Here’s a disturbing report from one of the great institutions of the land:

‘They cannot be assimilated and absorbed into the British race. They remain a people by themselves, segregated by reason of their race, their customs, their traditions and above all by their loyalty to their religion, and are gradually and inevitable dividing Britain, racially, socially and ecclesiastically…

‘Already there is a bitter feeling among the British working classes against the muslim intruders. As the latter increases, and the British people realise the seriousness of the menace to their racial supremacy in their native land, this bitterness will develop into a race antagonism which will have disastrous consequences for Britain.

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  Richard Ingrams (pictured), a columnist at The Independent and a former editor of Private Eye, penned a column in last Saturday’s paper commenting on the appointment of Sir Martin Gilbert and Sir Lawrence Freedman to the newly formed Iraq Inquiry committee.

He wrote:

Sir Martin Gilbert, the allegedly distinguished historian who is one of those appointed to investigate the Iraq war, has let it be known that one day in the future Bush and Blair might be seen in the same light as Roosevelt and Churchill. A good example of the rule that when it comes to talking nonsense it’s hard to beat a historian.’

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  Taj Hargey, of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford (MECO) wades into the burqa debate with a letter published in The Times today.

He writes:

Sir, While I oppose Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing and pro-American agenda, I commend the French leader for questioning the validity of full-face veiling for Muslim women.The Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford (Meco) has championed the unequivocal right of Muslim women not to wear either the hijab (headscarf) or face covering (niqab/burka) in the light of pristine Koranic teachings.’

And what of the ‘unequivocal right’ of Muslim women to wear the hijab (headscarf) or face covering (niqab/burka) if they choose to do so? Will MECO champion this too?

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  The niqab and burqa debate sparked off by Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments on Monday continues apace in today’s papers.

The Daily Express informs us that both Muslims and non – Muslims want Britain to ban the burqa. Their sources of authoritative commentary? Among others, the rabid neo-con Douglas Murray and Ghaffar Hussain of the Quilliam Foundation. What a surprise.

Murray tells the Express that a religious defence of the burkha is “completely bogus”, and that “there are parts [of the Qur’an] which speak of modesty but not this complete covering up. This idea that it is a religious requisite is only put forward by the extremists.”

But you see, those defending the rights of women to wear the burqa aren’t doing so on the basis of a religious edict, but a liberal one. How a woman interprets verses on modest dress is her business, and whether she opts for a headscarf, a niqab, a burqa, or none of the above, is her business and her business alone. In proscribing her ability to exercise such a right Murray is no different to the extremists who compel Muslim women to observe dress codes not of their choosing.

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  Michael Gove, the (neo)-Conservative Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, reviews Bruce Bawer’s ‘Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom’, in this month’s Standpoint magazine. Standpoint is edited by the former Daily Telegraph leader writer and unabashed neo-con, Daniel Johnson.

Gove appraises Bawer’s work as:

A polemic in defence of Enlightenment virtues, and in particular the indispensable US Constitution First Amendment liberty, freedom of speech, Surrender is written with a fierce urgency that compels attention. The manner in which freedom of speech has been relativised, circumscribed and betrayed in the face of extremism is powerfully documented. The specific challenge to democratic freedom posed by Islamist fundamentalism is presented with bracing clarity.’

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  There’s a lot in the papers today, (Times, Daily Express, Daily Mail) regarding the speech of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday in which he pledged his support for a parliamentary commission to debate a possible ban on the wearing of the burqa/niqab in France.

Sarkozy said that the burqa represents the “debasement of women”.

He went on:

In our country we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity.

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