Like most old men in their early 20s, Iâ€™m spending an increasing amount of time listening to Radio 4. Now I donâ€™t really want to go over old ground about the religious hatred bill, as it has been covered in length elsewhere â€“ Sunny has done an especially good job on Asians in the Media. To briefly state my position, I believe it to be a fig-leafed token gesture to appease the MCB after Blair pissed off a lot of Muslims. I simply want to bring a few fascinating comments from this eveningâ€™s Any Questions to your attention.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday that â€˜redundantâ€™ blasphemy laws should be scrapped. This statement coincided with a cross-party group announcing amendments to the controversial bill â€“ which returns to the Lords on Tuesday.
In a nutshell, the current blasphemy laws can only be applied to Christianity but critics of the bill fear that its imposition will allow the government to extend this archaic law to other religions.
What I found most interesting about George Careyâ€™s comments is that he said â€œItâ€™s good for a religion to be knocked and challengedâ€¦we need that criticism.â€ I could not agree more and it makes me very happy to hear that. Carey said he enjoyed The Life of Brian and didnâ€™t mind Jerry Springer the Opera.
Ziauddin Sardar was a panellist on the show and started by explaining how any extension to blasphemy laws would be bad news. He cited Pakistan, which had no blasphemy laws until about 15 years ago. â€œThe emergence of blasphemy laws has actually led to an incredible number of injustices against minorities and women.â€
But he was in favour of the bill with a rather interesting reason.
â€œIn the Muslim community, anti-Semitism has run riot and itâ€™s becoming a very major problem. So I would like the [bill to come in] so that we can lock all those anti-Semitic Muslims away.â€
Now, I heard a few people titter and of course you canâ€™t read a personâ€™s facial expression on the radio. He later confessed he was speaking with some degree of irony and expanded on what he meant. He explained how he thought that a problem in the Muslim community is that â€œthey perpetually see themselves as victimsâ€ and this is perpetuated by much of the media and/or public thinking that they are â€œa soft group in need of protectionâ€. He stated that the Muslim community is very resilient with strong and dynamic characters and one of the key problems is that the leadership of the community is ageing. The â€˜community leadersâ€™ have
â€œno understanding of the modern world, very little understanding of the problems of the young and they have a very archaic and obscurantist view and interpretation of Islam. But right underneath them we have a very dynamic group of young people who understand what modernity is all about and who have a very reformist outlook and what we need to do is promote, promote, promote this generation change. We donâ€™t need a religious hatred bill, we need to go out there and change the leadership of the Muslim community.â€
Whilst Iâ€™m not entirely sure if heâ€™s in favour or not at this point, donâ€™t you think his words sound very much like something else?
So whatâ€™s my point? Pickled Politics rocks!
If you have some time, you can listen to this edition again here.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Party politics,Religion