UK Politics

You Can’t Say That – Revisited

In yesterday’s Telegraph ex-editor Charles Moore considered the proposed new law on the stirring up of religious hatred.

He wondered – perfectly legitimately it seems to me – what would and wouldn’t be against the law. It would be obvious what side of the line most comments would be on by their very nature. An article in a magazine stating that Jews stole Christian children and sacrificed them would – I think – be a case of something that would probably fall foul of the new law.

Could, to consider another example, raising the fact that the founder of the Muslim religion had married a nine year old girl be tantamount to stirring up religious hatred or might that still be a legitimate area of comment ?

These are Moore’s own words:

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, 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.

Despite Moore’s fairminded conclusion the Islamists who co-sponsored the Stop the War Demonstrations against the liberation of Iraq are spitting tacks at the temerity of someone like Moore even discussing the prophet’s marriage practices. This despite the fact that such practices were brought up in order to illustrate the tricky distinction between actually stirring up of religious hatred and fair comment.

Here’s what they say about the article:

Moore’s article, full of falsehoods, lies, skewed interpretations and poisonous remarks, is nothing if not a clear incitement to religious hatred and division.

Well, no-one can request the prosecution of Moore yet because the proposed new law is still a parliamentary bill. Helpfully MAB remind readers that there are other methods of silencing people who aren’t as respectful of religion as the Islamists would like.

Almost 15 years on from the infamous Salman Rushdie affair, one would have thought that the likes of the Daily Telegraph and its editors would have known better than to allow such filth and drivel to adorn their pages.

If a Rushdie style fatwa and mass book burning doesn’t work why not miss the point spectacularly and pretend that Moore – a practicing and enthusiastic Papist convert – is whipping up assaults on all religion, and then call for his head.

The Muslim Association of Britain demands the immediate dismissal of Charles Moore from the Daily Telegraph and a full retraction and apology from the paper’s editors, to not only Muslims, but to followers of all faiths, whom Moore believes should welcome attacks on them, their beliefs and their revered figures.

That inability to distinguish between free enquiry and deliberate insult reminds me of those who wielded the blasphemy laws which were used to persecute freethinkers and rationalists in the middle ages.

If the bill becomes law and gives another weapon in the armoury of those who believe free enquiry and scepticism should be vilified, made out to be something it’s not and squashed by threats and worse then progressives should start to organise against it.