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Sunday, November 12, 2006
The acquittal of Nick Griffin

Since the acquittal of Nick Griffin, there have been many comments. Several ministers called for a review of the legislation after the BNP's leader was cleared of stirring up racial hatred in remarks about Islam. Here's how the BBC covered the matter:
Lord Ahmed said the government had not delivered on previous promises to the Muslim community on race hate laws.It was time for the government to start treating Muslims equally and not like "subjects of a colony", he said.

Last month Lord Ahmed said there was "a constant theme of demonisation of the Muslim community". He accused politicians and journalists of jumping on a bandwagon because "it is fashionable these days to have a go at the Muslims".
No, Lord Ahmed, there’s no bandwagon and criticising Muslims isn’t particularly fashionable. Muslims are far too sensitive and they want special privileges for their silly, nasty faith and they don’t like being told what a load of rubbish they espouse.

Evan Harris, MP for Oxford West is one of the few MPs with enough common sense to want to stand firm against further tightening of the legislation:
Lib Dem MP Evan Harris said any further restrictions on freedom of expression risked creating "extremist martyrs" or could be impossible to enforce.
So let’s look at what Griffin actually said, shall we?
The Leeds Crown Court jury heard extracts from a speech Mr Griffin made in 2004 in which he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith" and said Muslims were turning Britain into a "multi-racial hell hole".
Now, these are not quite words I’d use, although I’d come pretty close to the first. Further, the only reason that Griffin's remarks were broadcast was because there was an undercover BBC reporter with a secret camera present.

Let’s look at the law, here* .

In a previous blog (Bagshot under siege, February 23 2003), I said
All religions (with the solitary exception of The True Faith, of course) are silly. Many are nasty. Mohammed is an irredeemably sexist, nasty, dead old fart and Islam is a male power con-trick.
Fair enough, I’d have thought - it was “published”, although I think that dear old Myfanwy Trellis might not have seen, let alone reported it. But let’s look at a comment from someone more august, writing in a national newspaper. In The Observer, in the third part of a turgid, three-part article berating Mohammedanism, Martin Amis gives us:
All religions are violent; and all ideologies are violent.
Nothing specific about Mohammed’s lot here. I suppose that they could get lots of other religions together and try a joint prosecution. Or Islamists could try the self-accusatory: “Don’t say we’re violent or we’ll kill you!”

(Someone was speculating recently what the Church of England would do if one were really nasty about it. "Offer you sherry at the wrong temperature," was the best, and very striking suggestion.)

Amis makes one of the best criticisms, one I’d always thought gave us something with which to upbraid and ridicule Islam:
The connection between manifest failure [of Islam] and the suppression of women is unignorable. And you sometimes feel that the current crux, with its welter of insecurities and nostalgias, is little more than a pre-emptive tantrum - to ward off the evacuation of the last sanctum of power. What would happen if we spent some of the next 300 billion dollars (this is Liz Cheney's thrust) on the raising of consciousness in the Islamic world? The effect would be inherently explosive, because the dominion of the male is Koranic - the unfalsifiable word of God, as dictated to the Prophet.
And here he quotes a chunk of the Koran which, even if it is “the unfalsifiable word of God”, sounds much more like an extract from a male-power manifesto:
'Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme' ([Sura]4:34).
God is bollocks, more like it.

And in his conclusion, Amis remarks, presciently:
Can we imagine seeing men on the march in defence of their right to beat their wives? And if we do see it, then what? Would that win hearts and minds?
Perhaps when he wrote that, Amis knew a bit more than we do. But where's the Islamic feminist movement? Many of them seem to be far too concerned with arguing that they should be wearing the ridiculous garb specified by the nasties. Oh, and while it grieves me greatly to concur with the Griffin jury's verdict, they got it right.
* This is how the BBC’s article summarises the current position:

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act of earlier this year made it an offence to stir up hatred on religious grounds, and amended the law on encouraging racial hatred.
It applies to the display, publication, broadcast or distribution of words or behaviour that is likely to stir up religious or racial hatred.
Prosecutors must still prove a criminal intent behind the words, rather than simply "recklessness" as the government had originally proposed.
Under previous hate law, Christians and Muslims did not get protection because they were not considered to constitute a single ethnic bloc.