ADRIAN MORGAN:BRITAIN: JAILED FOR BURNING A KORAN
Forget notions of freedom of speech in Britain. Freedom of speech, if it does still exist in that Godforsaken country, is now subject to cultural relativism.
When Muslim fanatic Emdadur Choudhury burned a large poppy symbol on Armistice Day (November 11, 2010) in London, he deliberately offended relatives of fallen soldiers who were gathered to respect their memory. He was ordered to pay £50 – which is equivalent to $81.
26-year old Choudhury had been part of a group calling itself “Muslims Against Crusades” that was apparently influenced by Al-Muhajiroun rabble-rouser Abu Izzadeen (born: Trevor Brookes).
Choudhury had been found guilty under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 (pdf) of “harassment” – using threatening, abusive or insulting activity “within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”
Emdadur Choudhury who lives on welfare benefits paid for by British taxpayers, had not even bothered to turn up to court. He showed no remorse for his actions, and said after the trial:
“I don’t have any respect for British soldiers, and if they lose a limb or two in Afghanistan then they deserve it. You expect me to feel sorry for them? Of course I don’t.”
Emdadur Choudhury talked the talk, but couldn’t walk the walk. When he was offered a chance to meet a former soldier, a war hero who had lost an arm and a leg fighting in Afghanistan, he agreed, then ran away.
On Monday (April 18), a man who burned a Koran in front of passers-by in Carlisle, northern England, was jailed for 70 days. 32-year old Andrew Ryan had stolen the Koran from a library before setting it on fire, and he has six previous convictions, including one for racially motivated chanting at a soccer game.
The jail term of 70 days was not imposed on Ryan for the theft of the Koran. For theft, he was given a jail term of 30 days, to run concurrently with the 70 day jail term for breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act of 1986. In theory, both Emdadur Choudhury and Andrew Ryan could have been given sentences of up to a £1,000 fine or six months’ imprisonment.
The point that should be noted here is that in Britain’s Orwellian environment, a crime of theft is treated as being a less serious offense than publicly burning a Koran.
District Judge Gerald Chalk told Ryan that “This is a case of theatrical bigotry. It was pre-planned by you as you stole the book deliberately. You went out to cause maximum publicity and to cause distress.”
In a direct reference to Emdadur Choudhury’s comparatively lenient sentence, Ryan said: “What about burning poppies?”
Andrew Ryan had set fire to the book on January 19. He is apparently a member of a local chapter of the group called the English Defence League. Between the ages of 16 and 20, he had served in the British Army. He claimed that he had lost his temper after seeing “a website which had shown radical people burning poppies and abusing British troops returning from abroad.”
During his brief protest, he had shouted: “You burn our poppies, I’ll burn your Koran.”
The leftist media outlet “The Mirror” called Ryan a “lout” and a “yob.” The same newspaper had merely called Emdadur Choudhury a “Muslim.”
The British National Party (BNP) is a party that has not been able to purge itself of the racist elements that were present when it was founded. However, it is still a legitimate party, and all people in Britain, no matter their politics or their racial origins, should be treated equally under the law. A Welsh political figure in the BNP called Sion Owens, was arrested earlier this month after video footage of him setting fire to a copy of the Koran was leaked to the Observer newspaper. The newspaper, which is in the same leftist stable as the Guardian, then sent the footage to the police.
The British government’s Home Office immediately issued a statement which claimed:
“The government absolutely condemns the burning of the Qur’an. It is fundamentally offensive to the values of our pluralist and tolerant society. We equally condemn any attempts to create divisions between communities and are committed to ensuring that everyone has the freedom to live their lives free from fear of targeted hostility or harassment on the grounds of a particular characteristic, such as religion.”
Such a politically correct statement would make more sense if the law were applied equally to all. It seems in Britain, as in most nations of Europe, that it is perfectly acceptable for Muslim fanatics to preach hatred and contempt for Britain’s “pluralist and tolerant society,” but this is a one-way street.
Sion Owens had been arrested and kept in custody. During the alleged act, he had apparently said, “I am burning the Holy Koran and I hope that you Muslims are watching.”
On April 11, it was announced that charges against him were dropped – apparently because a procedural technicality had not been followed. Owens will still face prosecution. Prosecutor Bryn Hurford said:
“I want the defendant and his legal representatives to be in no doubt that the withdrawal of the charge does not mean that no proceedings will be taken. Almost certainly other proceedings will ensue.”
Daniel Hannan has wisely written that “Burning the Koran makes you a dummkopf, not a criminal.” He stated:
What Owens did, while eccentric, unpleasant and obnoxious, doesn’t qualify as incitement.
Owens has been charged with a public order offence. How, though, does an act carried out in your own garage qualify as a public order offence?
According to Superintendent Phil Davies of South Wales police: “We always adopt an extremely robust approach to allegations of this sort and find this sort of intolerance unacceptable in our society.”
You may well find it unacceptable, Superintendent, but that doesn’t mean it’s illegal. Perhaps you feel that it ought to be illegal. If so, you are free to stand for Parliament and sponsor a change in the law. In the mean time, your job is to arrest criminals, not people of whom you disapprove.
As Archbishop Cranmer points out, the police don’t get involved when Christian scriptures are desecrated. Indeed, a vandalized Bible is on display at Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art, courtesy of the taxpayer. The double standard, though, bothers me less than the criminalization of an opinion, however idiotic that opinion. Some other countries fight false ideas with the force of law. We should fight them with truth.
Alex Massie in the U.K. Spectator magazine blames Mrs Thatcher, whose government introduced the Public Order Act of 1986. He writes:
“Trying to cause offence should not be a crime and nor, naturally, should causing offence be considered criminal. As is so often the case the Public Order Act and its successors is to blame. The former was not one of Mrs Thatcher’s greatest achievements but to this day it’s an authoritarian one that commands widespread support in parliament. For shame.”
The Public Order Act of 1986 was not invoked in 1989 when Muslims were burning copies of the Satanic Verses and publicly calling for the death of Salman Rushdie. At that time, Kalim Siddiqui, a former journalist and head of the Muslim Parliament, had gone to Iran and urged Ayatollah Khomeini to uphold his death fatwa against Rushdie.
Anjem Choudary of Al-Muhajiroun organized a demonstration in London on February 3, 2006, to protest the Danish publications of cartoons of Mohammed. At this demonstration, Choudary had authorized his fanatics to create placards bearing statements that read: “Behead those who insult Islam.” Choudary was only charged with organizing a demonstration without giving the police adequate warning. He was handed a trivial fine of £500 ($800). The Public Order Act of 1986 was not invoked.
On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI made his famous Regensburg Address. As a consequence, on September 17, 2006, Anjem Choudary and about 100 Muslim fanatics gathered outside the Catholic Westminster Cathedral, with some carrying placards saying “May Allah Curse the Pope,” and “Pope go to Hell.” All this took place within the earshot of worshippers who were attending the religious service at the Cathedral, and was designed to offend their sensibilities, but Section 5 of the Public Order Act was not invoked. Even though Choudary had told reporters that the Pope would be killed in a Muslim nation for making such statements, no-one was charged.
On March 10, 2009, followers of Anjem Choudary protested the parade of soldiers of the Anglian Regiment, who were returning to the town of Luton after a tour of duty in Iraq. The protesters carried offensive placards that bore statements such as: “Anglian Soldiers go to Hell,” “Butchers of Basra” and ” Anglian Soldiers, Cowards Killers Extremists.” The protesters were directly in breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act of 1986.
When laws are selectively applied, the whole nation’s faith in the justice of the law is tested. Laws should not be used to uphold aspects of the politically correct zeitgeist – they should apply equally and without favour to everyone. When Muslims are shown to be treated leniently on issues of showing “contempt” for others, while non-Muslims are treated as pariahs for acting in similar boorish fashions, a double standard is seen to exist.
As a direct reaction to the incidents in Luton, Bedfordshire, some soccer supporters gathered together to form the English Defence League. This group soon became involved in street protests throughout Britain.
Muslims must be treated equally under the law, as must non-Muslims. To act partially, to have police, prosecutors and judges engaging in any form of positive discrimination, is an abuse of the law.
Britain will never be a genuine “pluralist and tolerant society” while sectarian and intolerant religious fanatics are given privileges and indulgences, and their sectarian and intolerant opponents are treated in a harsher fashion.
Already in America, the administration has condemned in no uncertain terms the burning of a Koran by Pastor Terry Jones. Such condemnation of the preacher has also led to Republican Lindsey Graham suggesting that as America is in a time of war, then the First Amendment should be suspended for issues of Koran burning. This is dangerous talk and should be confronted forcefully.
Britain has lost its sense of direction because it does not have an authentically British document that is called a Constitution. Technically, Britain is not a pluralist society – it is still illegal for a Catholic to sit on the throne, and the monarch is the titular head of the Church of England. The House of Lords, the Upper House of Parliament, has 26 seats reserved for figures from the same church (these are called the “Lords Spiritual”). While these positions remain intact, Britain is not politically a truly “pluralist” society, despite the prattlings of politically correct politicians.
Maybe, because Britain has never had its own constitutional documents, available and applied to all citizens, some judges, police and politicians feel they are trying to correct some innate bias and imbalance in its constitutional affairs. Prince Charles would officially become the “Defender of the Faith” when he becomes king. However, though he enjoys the wealth and privilege that accompanies the role of a potential monarch, he is unwilling to accept the terms and conditions of that role. He would wish to be “Defender of ALL faiths” when king – a position that is at odds with the antiquated traditions that accompany the antiquated role of the monarch. As if acting to compensate for this constitutional imbalance, Charles has eulogized Islam and happily condoned intolerant forms of Islam, such as Wahhabism.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is the senior ecclesiastical official in the Church of England. By virtue of his role, he sits in the House of Lords as one of the Lords Spiritual. However, he was chosen for this role by a secular politician, Tony Blair. Since that time, Blair has become a Catholic. In 2008, Rowan Williams called for aspects Sharia law to be introduced in Britain to maintain social cohesion – even though it would create the opposite effect.
America is a society that has a set of constitutional values enshrined in clearly-understood documents – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its ten amendments known collectively as the Bill of Rights. These documents have been the guiding lights of American achievements and American exceptionalism.
The problem with countries like Britain is that in a post-Imperial world, there is only a collective guilt for a history that once had Britain in control of a fourth of the planet’s land. Ethnicity has been accommodated – there are regional parliaments for the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish inhabitants of Britain, but none for the English. People who carry the English Flag of St. George have been threatened with prosecution for inciting racism, while people can carry flags of other nations in the rear windows of their cars.
Britain is engaged in a process of self-hatred, flagellating itself for its “wicked” past and with members of its police, judiciary, and ruling classes all assuming that it is their prerogative to redress the imbalances of history. History is important, but what is more important is the here-and-now.
What happened on Monday in Carlisle, where a man was jailed for 70 days for the specific “crime” of burning a Koran, is one of the lowest points in Britain’s recent social history. It is obvious that District Judge Gerald Chalk is acting politically, and the poorly written Public Order Act of 1986 has given him a mandate to judge whether other people were genuinely upset. There is no record in the press of Muslims giving tearful testimony in the court of how their feelings were hurt. It is apparent that Gerald Chalk, in a stunning act of condescension, has taken it upon himself to assume what offense may have been taken by Muslims to the sight of a Koran being burned.
This is not justice. It is politically correct social control, using the color of law to legitimize current fuzzy notions of what is socially acceptable, rather than judging that which is legally prohibited.
Shakespeare in Hamlet, wrote of “something rotten in the state of Denmark.”
Today, there is something far more rotten, and politically contaminating, in the state of Britain.
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