A chronicle of a society in its death throes: Lord Pearson asks if “Her Majesty’s Government whether, in pursuit of their anti-terrorism strategy,” will “require preaching in mosques and teaching in madrassas in England and Wales to be monitored for hate speech against non-Muslims.”
In response, the Muslim Baroness Warsi issues a warning: “I shall be really careful how I phrase this with reference to the original Question. Could I ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in pursuit of their antiterrorism strategy, they will require preaching in the form of Oral Questions and debate in your Lordships’ House to be monitored for hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims?”
So the question of whether the government will monitor the mosques for “hate speech” is thrust aside, and Pearson is threatened for his “Islamophobia.” Everyone present except for Lord Pearson appears to assume that all the mosques in the UK teach peace and brotherhood, and that this should not be questioned. It would be “indiscreet” to question it, as Lord Bourne says: “I agree with [Baroness Warsi] about the importance of people in this House exercising discretion—of course, within the bounds of free speech—about what they say.”
Within the bounds of free speech? Free speech properly understood has no bounds except actual incitement to violence and approval of criminal activity. If questions cannot even be asked about actual and serious national security issues, then there is no freedom of speech in Britain, and as a free society, it is finished.
“Anti-terrorism: Hate Speech,” Parliament.uk, June 27, 2018 (thanks to O.):
Lord Pearson of Rannoch
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in pursuit of their anti-terrorism strategy, they will require preaching in mosques and teaching in madrassas in England and Wales to be monitored for hate speech against non-Muslims.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and Wales Office (Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth) (Con)
My Lords, it is just a year since the Finsbury Park terror attack on the mosque, and I am reminded how the Muslim community acted then—with dignity, determination and compassion—as no doubt the noble Lord is also so reminded. Our Government are clear on our strong objective to tackle hate crime. Free speech and freedom of belief are fundamental principles of our society. The Government have no plans to require monitoring of preaching in mosques or in any other faith institution.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch (UKIP)
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply, but I fear that it underestimates the problem because the Government must know that hatred of us kuffar is central to radical Islam, that it is being taught in our mosques and madrassas, and that their own Behavioural Insights Team has said that their present policies are failing. Should not the Government get real by requiring all such teaching to be in English, as soon as possible, and by insisting on far greater collaboration from our peaceful Muslim friends in the meantime? After all, they know what is going on. And will the Government please stop using the word “Islamophobia”, because it is surely reasonable and not at all phobic to fear the world’s most violent ideology, from which indeed most hate speech now comes?
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
My Lords, first, the Government are committed to tackling Islamophobia. Secondly, perhaps I could tell the noble Lord of two recent visits I have made in relation to faith institutions. One was to a mosque in Manchester: an excellent mosque in Gorton, where Jews and Christians were welcomed for a great iftar. It was a true expression of British Muslim activity. Similarly, the previous day I visited the Manchester Islamic High School for Girls, where the opening words from the headmistress were on how proud she was to be British—but she was also proud to be Muslim.
Baroness Warsi (Con)
My Lords, I do not like to read, but I shall be really careful how I phrase this with reference to the original Question. Could I ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, in pursuit of their antiterrorism strategy, they will require preaching in the form of Oral Questions and debate in your Lordships’ House to be monitored for hate speech and Islamophobia against Muslims? Does the Minister agree that Tommy Robinson, who has, to much disgust, been hosted in your Lordships’ House for tea and lunch but is now serving time in, I believe, Her Majesty’s Prison Hull, is now in a more appropriate place for someone who thinks, speaks, preaches and conducts himself as he does?
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth
My Lords, my noble friend makes some powerful points, and I pay tribute to what she does in this regard. First, I agree with her about the importance of people in this House exercising discretion—of course, within the bounds of free speech—about what they say. Secondly, I am aware that Tommy Robinson is in Her Majesty’s Prison Hull, and I was aware that he was hosted here recently. I was recently in Hull myself, not on prison visits but on faith visits….
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