Incitement good, opposing Islamo-fascism baaaad!
Bunglawussi (of the ancient rulings) discovers a sudden need for freedom of speech when it involves hate preachers like Â Al Qaradawi & Zakir Naik. The rest of the time, he’s rather keen on squealing about “Islamophobia” and “offence” to shut people up:
If we care about free speech, let these Muslim speakers in
The enlightened Qaradawi just burst the bubble of Western liberal progressives: “secularism is incompatible with Islam” (“Why is secularism incompatible with Islam?,” by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi in theÂ Saudi Gazette)
Anyhow; Bunglawussi insists:
The coalition government should demonstrate its commitment to liberal values by allowing two Muslim speakers to enter the UK
Sources tell me that the Home Office is currently considering issuing two exclusion orders. One would be against a Jamaican-born Muslim preacher calledÂ Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips and the other againstÂ Zakir Naik, who is due to arrive in the UK on Friday to begin aÂ speaking tour to huge audiences at the Sheffield Arena, London’s Wembley Arena and the LG Arena in Birmingham’s NEC. Naik is based in Mumbai, India and has in recent years built up a huge international following among Muslims. His lectures and debates on the topic of comparative religion are played continuously onÂ Peace TV â€“ the satellite channel that he founded.
This is just the latest in a series of “naming and shaming”Â exclusion orders that began a couple of years ago when the former Labour government said that it would introduce a policy of banning “preachers of hate” from visiting the UK. At the end of last monthÂ the Sunday Times ran an article about Zakir Naik that seems to have panicked some people in the government. For his part Naik has since issued aÂ press statement saying that he “unequivocally condemns acts of violence including 9/11, 7/7 and 7/11 [the serial train bombing in Mumbai], which are completely and absolutely unjustifiable on any basis.”
We already have a sufficient number of laws on the statute books to deal with incitement to hatred and violence, and the fact is that both Bilal Philips and Zakir Naik have visited the UK on several occasions in the past â€“ and their speaking tours have passed by without incident. Neither speaker has said anything that has got them in trouble with the law, so why not just uphold our existing laws rather than seek to pre-emptively ban them? It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the exclusion order policy is yet another government PR gimmick designed to show that it is getting tough on those it regards as being extremists. And if the government believes that these speakers may still make some improper â€“ though not unlawful â€“ statements, then it should be regarded as a test of our commitment to free speech, especially if we regard its value as being universal.
During the controversy a couple of years ago over the proposed visit of the Qatar-based Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spokesman for theÂ Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg was quoted as opposing any ban, saying:
“Many of Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s views are repugnant; the job of a truly liberal society is to defeat such abhorrent ideas by arguing forcefully and persuasively against them. Giving al-Qaradawi the publicity that a ban would create would ultimately serve only to legitimise his views in the eyes of extremists. If he is allowed into this country he is of course subject to our laws; and if he were to break the law in any way including inciting or glorifying terrorism he should obviously be prosecuted.”
It was an admirable statement and full of common sense. Now that the Lib-Dems have gained a share of power it is to be hoped that they will use that influence to roll back some of the more repressive measures that the former government introduced in the name of security. Just two days ago, the Tory party chairwoman,Â Lady Warsi, was quoted as sayingthat the government would be reviewing Labour’s legislation allowing terror suspects to be held for 28 days without charge. It should be recalled that the Labour party increased the period of detention without charge from the seven days it inherited in 1997 to 28 days, and that Tony Blair had actually tried to get it increased â€“ it sends a chill down the spine just thinking about it â€“ to 90 days.
Ironically enough, Zakir Naik’s final talk during his UK tour is scheduled to be on the topic ofÂ “Freedom of Expression â€“ an Islamic Perspective”. Who knows, if he is still allowed to deliver it, he may even come to appreciate a thing or two about what freedom of expression really means.