The Muslim Council of Britain held a conference this week entitled Terrorism and Extremism -- how should British Muslims respond?
And the response seems to be to call for the censorship of reports about the terrorism and criminalisation of
criticism of the extremism.
Calls were made for the UK's newspaper censor, Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), to censor press stories critical of groups of people rather than the current remit to investigate press stories that are
unfair to individuals.
The Muslim Council of Britain both called for that to change, amid what some claim is slanted press coverage of Islamic issues. The coincil had previously criticized media coverage of issues such as that of Muslim
grooming gangs , in which groups of men in areas such as Rotherham, Derby, Bristol and Oxfordshire were accused of raping thousands of children. Representatives of the MCB have said that linking the story to the Muslim faith was not fair.
Miqdaad Versi, Assistant Secretary General of the MCB, said that there is currently
no recourse under the press standards code when a particular group is attacked by the media:
There's been many examples in the media, where we've tried to go to the code but we've not been able to, he said. If
there is a way that a representative group can launch a complaint on that issue, that would be valuable.
One of the most high-profile cases in which IPSO rejected a claim of discrimination came last spring, and involved a column in
the Sun newspaper about the migration crisis. Controversial columnist Katie Hopkins suggested that Europe should use gunboats to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean, and compared those fleeing their home countries to cockroaches. But IPSO
rejected complaints over her column, because it did not refer to specific individuals.
The conference also discussed the restoration of blasphemy laws, abolished in 2008 after they had largely fallen into disuse by then, given that the last
successful prosecution was in 1977.
On the topic Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told Al Arabiya News that he would have no problem with blasphemy laws being reintroduced"
It should apply to all religions. If we have laws, they should apply to everybody. Religions are very special to people. And therefore I have no objection to them... but it must apply equally to everybody.
Anderson QC spoke on the topic saying he would not object to a public debate over the issue, although had doubts over whether such laws should be reintroduced:
Personally I'm not sure whether I would welcome a
blasphemy law, because I think we have to be free to make fun of each other. We even have to be free to offend each other, he said. [But] I would have no problem with the idea of a democratic debate on whether there is room for some kind of blasphemy
Miqdaad Versi said:
Muslim communities need to be able to respond to accusations Muslims, or against the Prophet, in a more effective way. Whether there should be legislation is something that
really is a more complicated question.
Comment: One religion's blasphemer is another religion's saint
Here's a spectacular illustration of the big problem with blasphemy laws: religions contradict, and therefore blaspheme, one another.
This Catholic web site presents, and accurately translates into English, criticisms of Muhammad and Islam made by a priest who
has been declared a saint. Notably, St john Bosco was a kindly and gentle old chap, deploring corporal punishment at a time when Dr Arnold of Rugby firmly believed in a good flogging in front of the assembled house. He observed:
"It would take too long to tell you all the stories about this famous impostor (...) Mohamed's religion consists of a monstrous mixture of Judaism, Paganism and Christianity. Mohamed propagated his religion, not through miracles
or persuasive words, but through the force of arms. [It is] a religion that favors every sort of licentiousness and which, in a short time, allowed Mohamed to become the leader of a troop of brigands. Along with them he raided the countries of the East
and conquered the people, not by introducing the Truth, not by miracles or prophecy; but for one reason only: to raise his sword over the heads of the conquered shouting: believe or die".
A man who threatened to blow-up a shop and stab its staff for selling French magazine Charlie Hebdo in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks has been given a suspended prison sentence.
Shamim Ahmed sent an email to South Kensing ton's The
French Bookshop on January 17 with the subject line: 'Protect your neck while you are still alive. Ahmed accused the bookshop of selling the satirical magazine against Muslims and said they would face major retaliation if they continued to
stock it. He then made two threatening phone calls to the Bute Street shop on January 22, telling the owner:
I'm going to come and stab you, I'm going to come right away and blow up the shop. I'm not afraid of the
police, I'm a Muslim.
Ahmed was fined £1180, told to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and indefinitely placed under a restraining order which prevented him from contacting The French Bookshop or its staff, or encouraging others to
do so. He was handed a 20-week sentence suspended for two years.
More than 300 works are on display in Northern Ireland's biggest visual arts show, but a small area of one of them has sparked a clamour for censorship.
Christian Flautists Outside St Patrick's was the last painting by acclaimed Irish
artist Joseph McWilliams, who died last month. He was posthumously awarded The Irish News Prize for the work. Close inspection of the painting shows a group of people in Klu Klux Klan hoods at the bottom left of the picture.
Two political parties,
Traditional Unionist Voice and the Democratic Unionist Party have demanded the removal of the painting from the 134th Annual Exhibition at the Ulster Museum following complaints from the Orange Order. The group complained that a small blurred section depicts a number of Orangemen wearing Ku Klux Klan clothing
. They deny it ever happened calling it deliberate demonization .
It has prompted calls from unionist political party Traditional Unionist Voice to remove the painting from display. The Democratic Unionist Party also criticised the
However the Royal Ulster Academy has refused to bow to these demands. Academy president Denise Ferran said the work would not be removed over the disputed square inch of a canvas that is seven foot by five foot as it would be an attack on
The Academy has subsequently put up notices saying some people may be offended by the exhibition. Ferran said:
What we will not do is take the picture down. Once you go down that road, the
problems will never cease. I'm delighted we're not a moribund crowd of old stooges. We are causing provocation, which is what an academy of artists should be doing.
A spokesman for the Orange Order said putting up the disclaimers was
a necessary step and at least some acknowledgement of the genuine concerns of the institution and many in the wider community to the inaccurate and misleading nature of the painting in question . He added that the group had not called for the
painting to be removed from display saying the Orange Order does not actively support censorship . A spokesman for the Order said its members were entitled to feel outraged that a major publicly funded facility should display such artwork which
is deeply offensive to their traditions.
The recent TalkTalk hacking seems to have taught David Cameron a lesson on how important it is to keep data safe and encrypted.
The topic came yup this week in the House of Lords when Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety and security,
confirmed that the government will not pass laws to ban encryption. and that the government has no intention of introducing legislation to weaken encryption or to require back doors.
The debate was brought by Liberal Democrat Paul
Strasburger, who claimed Cameron does not seem to get the need for strong encryption standards online, with no back door access. Strasburger said:
[Cameron] three times said that he intends to ban any
communication 'we cannot read', which can only mean weakening encryption. Will the Minister [Shields] bring the Prime Minister up to speed with the realities of the digital world?
Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones asked if she
could absolutely confirm that there is no intention in forthcoming legislation either to weaken encryption or provide back doors.
Shields denied Cameron intended to introduce laws to weaken encryption and said:
The Prime Minister did not advocate banning encryption; he expressed concern that many companies are building end-to-end encrypted applications and services and not retaining the keys.
She then seemingly
contradicted herself by adding that companies that provide end-to-end encrypted applications, such as Whatsapp, which is apparently used by the terror group calling itself Islamic State, must be subject to decryption and that information handed over
to law enforcement in extremis .