Tuesday, February 06, 2007

This is what happens when a society refuses to defend its own values

The following was reported in the Daily Telegraph yesterday:

A Muslim group has offered to help fund a school's legal battle over its refusal to let a pupil wear the niqab in class.

In an unprecedented move, the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford (Meco) has written to the head teacher to say it is prepared to contribute to a fighting fund.

Taj Hargey, Meco's chairman, said he was also willing to organise a campaign among Muslims nationally to resist "this largely Saudi-driven campaign to make the niqab a compulsory requirement for Muslim women".

Dr Hargey's offer comes as the school, which cannot be identified because of a court order, faces the prospect of an expensive legal fight without any backing.

Buckinghamshire county council, the local authority for the school, is unwilling to underwrite a challenge which it believes could cost as much as £500,000.

A court on Thursday is due to decide whether the school's decision not to allow the pupil, aged 12, to wear the veil should go to a full judicial review. The school, which already allows girls to wear head scarves called hijabs, drew the line at the niqab, which covers the whole face except the eyes.

There's not a lot to add here, except to say that a country that lacks the willpower or the courage to defend it's own values is a country with no future.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Its about time the authorities stopped treading on eggshells

Last week, the police arrested several suspects in Birmingham over an alleged terror plot to behead a Muslim soldier serving in the British Army. The immediate reaction by the local community was to protest their innocence. Reacting to local events, the chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, Dr Naseem Mohammed (considered to be a moderate) compared the plight of UK Muslims with that of the Jews in Nazi Germany. Similar sentiments were echoed in the Guardian (Funny, I wasn't aware of Muslims being rounded up and sent to concentration camps). In a bid to defuse the tension, the Police distributed 5,000 leaflets in English, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu, around the predominantly Asian districts in which the raids took place. As well as giving details of the operation and the events leading up to it, the leaflets provided advice on reporting hate crime."We want to reassure you that the police are not targeting communities or faiths, but suspected criminals," they said.

My question is, why are the police bothering?

It has been clear for a while now that there are many in the Muslim community who are refusing to listen. You can drop as many leaflets as you like and have interfaith visits to the local mosque every day of the week, but when locals start believing conspiracy theories, many of which are fed to them by their own community leaders, there is really not a lot you can do. On the contrary, by giving out leaflets, all you are doing is taking their ludicrous claims seriously.

It will be a long time till we discover whether the suspects in this latest raid are guilty or not. But every day of the week, all over the country, the police arrest thousands of suspects for all kinds of offences. Sometimes people are charged, sometimes they are released. Why should people in the Muslim community be treated any differently?

Isn't it time the authorities stopped treading on eggshells? The police have a job to do, they should be left to get on with it.