First published on FrontPage Magazine.
By Enza Ferreri
In British law, race and religion are increasingly becoming deliberately confused for the purpose of accusing critics of Islam of racism.
A soccer fan was arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after allegedly ripping up pages of the Quran and throwing them at a match. While on bail, he was also banned from attending any football games, visiting St Andrew's - the stadium of the incident -, and going to any city where his team Middlesbrough was playing.
Insults against Islam are taken very seriously in Britain, and the world of soccer is particularly sensitive to them. After the incident, Middlesbrough Football Club suspended six more people, and vowed to ban anyone convicted of the “crime” from the Riverside Stadium, its home ground, for life.
A Middlesbrough club spokesman said it operates a "zero tolerance policy" towards all forms of discrimination, and supports football's pledge to "eradicate racism in all its forms".
Nobody could answer the question of what race Islam is. Muslims belong to all races, including white. But we know that the word “racism” has lost its original sense, and indeed any sense.
Originally the concept of racism had a place and an important role in both ethical and political discourses.
Now it’s best avoided because it’s lost its positive characteristics, its usefulness, and has instead become a tool for intolerance, intimidation, restriction of freedom of speech and other freedoms, in short a means of oppression.
The 19th-century German philosopher Gottlob Frege, one of the founders of modern logic, distinguished between the two dimensions of a concept: its meaning (or reference) and its sense.
The meaning or denotation is the class of objects to which the concept refers, which is comprised by the concept.
The sense or connotation is the concept's descriptive qualities.
There is an inverse proportion between the two: the larger the meaning the narrower the sense and vice versa.
A concept like "universe", just because it has as reference an all-including class of objects, has practically no sense, in that it has very little descriptive, or delimitative, power.
Defining a word means exactly that, giving it borders that restrict it and in so doing make it precise.
Since the word "racism" has started being used to refer to many attitudes, behaviours and ideas that had little or nothing to do with racism in the strict sense, its meaning has become progressively larger and larger, correspondingly decreasing its sense.
When today I hear about someone or something being called "racist", I hardly ever believe that it’s true. The likeliest explanation, I think to myself, is either an umpteenth case of excessive political correctness, or a personal attack. The descriptive capability of the term has got lost or at least dramatically eroded.
There is at the moment a worrying trend: what has for a long time been a common Leftist ploy, the shouting of “racist” to shut down any criticism of Islam, is now tried to be enshrined in British law.
The soccer case is one example of this attempt. Another is what’s happened to Tim Burton, the Radio Officer of the party Liberty GB, which will contest the May 22 European Parliament Elections for Britain (donations to help with the election campaign are welcome).
Burton appeared at Birmingham Magistrates' Court, England, on April 8, charged with racially aggravated harassment for a few tweets in which he called prominent British Muslim Fiyaz Mujhal “a mendacious grievance-mongering taqiyya-artist”.
Mujhal, founder and director of the organisation Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), was exposed by The Telegraph newspaper last year for having massaged some facts and figures about “anti-Muslim attacks” following the Woolwich murder of soldier Lee Rigby. For this and other discrepancies between police official figures of anti-Muslim crimes and the inflated ones of Tell MAMA, the organisation, which had received £375,000 from the UK government, had its public funding discontinued.
The obvious paradox here is that Tell MAMA, clearly in desperate search for “Islamophobic” crimes that could justify its requests for public funds, didn’t find a sufficient number of them of a serious enough nature. So, first it exaggerated them both quantitatively and qualitatively, calling “attacks” simple posts on Facebook and other social media. Then, when this manipulation had become well known, it used the same tactic against the people, like Tim, who called the bluff, in a self-perpetuating cycle.
Burton’s trial has been very worrying for anyone who holds dear freedom of speech and basic civil liberties. One of the worrisome aspects is the conflating of “religion” with “race”. Tim Burton was accused of racially-aggravated harassment for tweets concerning Islam. Not only Islam is clearly not a race and Muslims can and do belong to all races, but also the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service considers those two charges (racially- and religiously-aggravated crimes) as distinct and separate ones.
The Crown Prosecution Service, though, despite officially paying lip service to this distinction, in Tim Burton’s case was trying to conflate the two because it did not have sufficient ground to get a conviction on the “religiously aggravated” charge – which requires stronger evidence -, so decided to prosecute using the easier “racially aggravated” one.
As its website says, “So it will be more difficult to prosecute for inciting religious hatred as opposed to racial hatred”.
The attempt to “racialise Muslims” clearly exists but not, as Tell MAMA says, on the part of Liberty GB. It exists on the part of British Islam apologists and their allies, the politically correct Establishment.
Since there are no blasphemy laws in the UK and criticism of any religion, including Islam, is theoretically tolerated, only two alternatives are left to British Muslims who want to protect Islam from the expression of the uncomfortable truths of its supremacist and violent nature. One is to invoke the introduction of a blasphemy law; the other, subtler and more effective, is to turn existing equality, anti-racist, “hate crime” laws into a sharia-style blasphemy law.
The Macpherson Report, which followed the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London in 1993, reached the conclusion that the British police force is “institutionally racist” and, with the alleged intent of redressing the balance, established that absolutely anything perceived by a “victim” as a racist incident is de facto a racist incident: simple perception becomes legal reality, whether it’s true or not.
This makes the endeavour to legally treat anti-Islam criticism as racist even more dangerous, as it may render it subject to the ruling of the Macpherson Report.
An attempt had previously been made by the Labour government, when the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 was passed, to formulate it in such a way that it could criminalise the criticism of Islam, the Quran and Muhammad. This was made impossible by the opposition of the Catholic Church and the Church of England, as well as various evangelical Christian groups which threatened to use this law against the Quran, which is full to the brim with incitements to religious hatred. Therefore the bill had to be amended.
But what went out legally by the door of Parliamentary procedure is now being reintroduced surreptitiously through the window of politically correct police and prosecution establishment.
This is why Liberty GB held a public protest outside the courthouse and considered this trial crucially important.
Firstly, to show to the British and Western public what taqiyya – deception for the good of Islam - is and, given the special position in the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims of this divine permission to lie, to show the whole nature of Islam in relation to us through it. For this reason, Islam’s scholar Professor Hans Jansen appeared at the trial and gave evidence as expert witness on taqiyya. We christened this a “taqiyya trial”.
Secondly, to defend free speech and stop the effective use of anti-racist legislation as blasphemy laws.
Photo by Gareth Davies (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0).