Archive for October, 2005

Danish PM won’t meet ambassadors

The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has refused to meet with eleven Muslim ambassadors who wanted to talk about a Danish newspaper publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammed. (See story below)

This is a matter of principle. I won’t meet with them because it is so crystal clear what principles Danish democracy is built upon that there is no reason to do so. […]

As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press – nor do I want such a power. It is a basic principle of our democracy that a prime minister cannot control the press

Meanwhile, a group of moderate Danish Muslims have started a petition in support of freedom of expression.

We cannot allow Islamic radicals in Denmark to continue with their provocation, aggression, and threats against people who want to criticise or make jokes about religion.

20-year-old Nasim Rahnam, who arrived in Denmark from Iran, explains further:

For us, it’s important to emphasise that those who threaten and make a commotion do not represent all immigrants. But that’s the way Danes perceive it. […]
That shows that many average Muslims don’t have anything to do with the political Islamic groups. We wanted to show that.

The group collected signatures under the banner “Initiative for Freedom of Expression.”

MCB opposes amendments

The Muslim Council of Britain, self-appointed leaders of the Muslim community, have spoken out against the proposed amendments to the Religious Hatred Bill. They do not go into any detail about why they don’t like the amendments, preferring to make bald assertions rather than arguments.

Iqbal Sacranie:

The amendments – if accepted – will mean that British Muslims will continue to remain second-class citizens and denied the same level of legal protection that is given to some racial and religious groups including Jews and Sikhs under existing racial incitement laws.

They claim that opponents of the bill have misleadingly claimed that it will prevent criticism of ridicule of religion, and that “this is demonstrably untrue to anyone who as read the actual wording of the Bill.” Yet this is exactly what the amendments are designed to make clear. So why the objection? Got something against clarity, Iqbal?

Milton Keynes, host to Satan

Christian groups protested last night outside The Pitz nightclub in Milton Keynes which was hosting a festival of Satanic music. Local Satanists were understandably upset, but the “grottomaster” of the MK branch of the Church of Satan displayed a diabolical grasp of current affairs when he stated:

If things kick off, we can call upon the new Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

Mr Stacey brought his satanic bible to the gig, intending to quote it to the protestors.

No doubt the protestors had their own bibles to quote right back at him. Stony Stratford-based pastor Robert Lightowler of the Evangelical Free Church gave Stacey taste of what to expect:

Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’

But it was Adewale Adodo of the Brent Cross-based Jesus House that put the case most succinctly:

I’m concerned that we’ll be sending out the wrong message if this is allowed to go on.

Milton Keynes is a shining example of a multicultural society and we shouldn’t let it be tainted by darkness or allow evil to gain ground in any way, shape or form.

The gig was headlined by Florida band Deicide, with support from Visceral Bleeding and Wykked Witch. Deicide are famed for songs bearing such titles as Carnage in the Temple of the Damned, Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live), In Hell I Burn, When Satan Rules His World, Kill the Christian, Bastard of Christ, Blame it on God, Conquered by Sodom, Fuck Your God and Bible Basher.

Heavens above!

(Thanks to DaveB in the comments)

260 – 111

The Lords voted overwhelmingly in favour of the cross-party amendment to the Religious Hatred bill yesterday. This spectacular defeat will put a lot of pressure on the government, although there are no guarantees that the original bill will not be forced through using the Parliament Act.

Christian think tank Ekklesia has published a document on the proposed legislation highlighting its major flaws and also criticising some groups who oppose it: evangelical Christians, for their hypocrisy and alarmism; and secularists for not being more understanding about the extent to which religious delusions are ingrained into notions of “identity” among those afflicted with supernaturalistic world views.

Well worth a read, especially if you’ve never considered the theological arguments against censorship.

Atkinson’s speech

The full text of Rowan Atkinson’s speech to the House of Lords on Oct 20.

A snippet:

The freedom to criticise or ridicule ideas – even if they are sincerely held beliefs – is a fundamental freedom and a law which says that you can ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas, is a very odd law indeed. It promotes the idea that there should be a right not to be offended, when I think that the right to offend is far more important than a right not to be offended.

UPDATE: The Times editorial today sums up the case for the amendments.

Witches, Satanists welcome proposed hatred bill

According to the Sunday Times, the high priest of British white witches, Kevin Carlyon, expressed his hopes for the proposed religious hatred law.

Witches do not roam around naked and hang people up. I am pleased that we will be protected by these new laws from bias or persecution.

He also said the satanist groups were likely to exploit the legislation:

There are a couple of groups in England and I think they may well use the new act. Some of the satanists are nice as pie, although I don’t support what they do.

They just have these rules that they have to abide by carnal greed, carnal lust and carnal joy. It’s all the pleasures in life, really, but they are not well thought of.

Kevin The Witch has another website here, which includes a fab photo of him riding on a smoking broomstick!

Danish paper in trouble over Mohammed cartoons

mohammed cartoon
From the BBC: cartoonists for a Danish newspaper have received death threats for drawing cartoons of Mohammed. The newspaper Jyllands-Posten urged cartoonists to send in drawings of the prophet after an author had complained that nobody dared illustrate his book on Mohammed.

Twelve cartoonists responded, and their work was published in the daily paper. First, an Imam demanded an apology. The newspaper was forced to hire security guards to protect staff. A group calling themselves “The Glory Brigades of Northern Europe” starting putting threatening collages on the internet. Then, as the BBC reports, ambassadors from 10 Muslim countries complained to the Danish prime minister.

Apparently Islam forbids the pictorial representation of the prophet. That means that Muslims shouldn’t draw him… doesn’t it?

The twelve cartoons are available here, for your viewing pleasure.

Piggy’s back

The Express and Star report that Dudley Council rules are being reviewed after workers were told to remove toy piggies from their desks because they offended a Muslim staff member. (See story below)

Councillor Pat Martin told the council meeting:

In Dudley we rightly pride ourselves on being fair and reasonable employers but we will not accept extreme forms of political correctness.

(Hat tip – The Religious Policeman)

Ex-archbishop calls for blasphemy law to be abolished

From The Guardian: George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, backs the abolition of the UK’s blasphemy law which exists to protect “the tenets and beliefs of the Church of England”.

Speaking at yesterday’s unveiling of the compromise proposals (see below), Carey said:

I don’t think within the Church of England there will be much opposition. It seems to be that the time has come to look at it very critically and say it’s redundant. Then we even out the playing field. It needs to be removed and maybe if it had been then we would have had a better bill before us now. […]

It’s good for religion to be knocked and challenged … we may need that criticism

The amendment to the bill was proposed by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Avebury. Read the full text of the amendment here.

Taking the rot out of a rotten bill

According to the BBC, campaigners against the proposed incitement to religious hatred bill have proposed a compromise which they believe will protect freedom of expression. Having accepted that the government is likely to force the bill through no matter what, Rowan Atkinson, Lord Carey, and a cross-party group of peers have proposed the following safeguards:

– Nobody can be found guilty of new religious hate crimes unless it is proved they intended to stir up hatred
– Only threatening words should be banned by the bill, not those which are only abusive or insulting
– There should be a specific part of the bill saying the law should not restrict discussion, criticism of expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or beliefs.

Lib Dem peer Lord Lester said,

The purpose of these amendments is to take the rot out of a rotten bill […] We think it would be a mistake to wreck the bill and then give the government the excuse that the unelected upper house was somehow thwarted the will of the elected representatives.