Friday, January 25, 2008

Britain's voluntary apartheid

Herbert London - The Daily Telegraph recently published an article indicating Islamic extremists have created "no go" areas across Great Britain where it is too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter The Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester and the Church of England"s only Asian bishop, said people of a different race or faith face physical attack if they live or work in communities dominated by a strict Muslim ideology.

Clearly at stake is the very future of Christianity as the nation"s public religion. With multiculturalism gaining ground as a philosophical position, Islam rides on its coattails. Since all faiths are to be treated equally according to this multicultural faith, it isn't possible to challenge publicly the call to prayer or the reliance on Shariah to adjudicate legal claims.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, who has said England is "sleepwalking into segregation," has been criticized for what some consider incendiary language. However, multiculturalism clearly has led to deep and irrepressible social divisions, what one politician called "voluntary apartheid."

It would appear the divisions can be attributed to the government's failure to integrate immigrants into the larger community. But it is also related to a diminished belief in the Church of England and Christianity in general. Most in Britain believe the church will be disestablished within a generation, severing a bond between church and state that dates to the Reformation.

Of course, there are those who contend the critique of multiculturalism is little more than a manifestation of intolerance. Yet it is the intolerance in the Muslim communities that produced this blow-back.

The Rev. Nicholas Reade, bishop of Blackburn, which has a large Muslim community, maintains it is increasingly difficult for Christians to observe their faith in communities where they are a minority. He too believes the government will be pressured into disestablishing the Church of England.

There is little doubt that Britain is undergoing dramatic change. In a mere few decades this nation with an acknowledged Christian foundation is now routinely described as a multifaith society. Clearly the large number of immigrants entering the British Isles account in large part for the shift in attitude. Yet that isn't the whole story.

The loss of confidence in the Christian vision, which underlies most of the achievements and principles of the culture, may account for a reluctance to defend the nation's heritage.

If minorities are permitted to live in their own insulated communities, communicating in their own languages and having minimal need to build relationships with the majority, the nation will sink into balkanization. Moreover, this separation feeds and endorses Islamic extremism by alienating youngsters from the nation and creating the impression ideological devotion is a mark of acceptability.

Some Muslims and Christians, of course, recognize the problem and are eager to do something about it. But can Shariah relate to British civil law? Can Shariah-compliant banking be accommodated in a free-market system? Can Christianity be maintained as the nation's public faith? Can universities transmit a sense of Britannia when multiculturalism is in the ascendancy?

These are merely several of the host of questions and issues that must be addressed by government and religious leaders.

Unfortunately, there are many more questions than answers and much more confusion on the part of the British public than clarity about the road ahead.

Herbert London is president of Hudson Institute and professor emeritus of New York University. He is the author of "Decade of Denial" (Lanham, Mad.: Lexington Books, 2001).

Dutch Braced For 'Koran Insult' Backlash

January 24, 2008
By Tim Marshall, Sky News foreign affairs editor

If I insult you, am I responsible for your violence?
It's a question being debated in the Netherlands this week as Dutch embassies around the world beef up their security ahead of the release of a film on the internet which allegedly insults the Koran. It's reported to show the Koran being torn up and otherwise desecrated.

The extreme right wing politician Geert Wilders has made the ten minute film promoting his belief that the Koran inspires people 'to do the worst things'. His views have inspired him to talk about a 'Tsunami of Islamisation' in Europe, for the Koran to be banned, and for Dutch Muslims to either give up their religion or leave the country.

These remarks have gained his party nine seats in the 150 seat parliament and himself a 24 hour police guard.
He needs it. The last Dutchman to make a film which angered some ended up with a knife in his chest attached to a note insulting Jews and Christians. Theo Van Gogh's murderer, an Islamist, also attempted to behead his victim in the street.

The violence of the Danish Cartoon protests of 2005 roared around the world and resulted in dozens of deaths. Now, hearing of the Wilders film, the Iranian Parliament has warned of 'extensive repercussions around the world' if it's shown

Mr Wilders has reacted by announcing he will delay release for two weeks and accepts he may have to leave the country. Dutch Embassies around the world have been put on alert and the Dutch counter terrorist services have held emergency meetings with the Government. Most politicians in the Netherlands believe Mr Wilders is being inflammatory and insulting, but are sticking to the principle of freedom of expression.

It could all come to nothing, but it could get ugly. The Grand Mufti of Syria accuses Mr Wilders of 'inciting wars and bloodshed and he will be responsible'.

This in effect means, 'it's your fault if I'm violent' which is an interesting argument but not one which would stand up in a court of law. If someone insults your family and you hit them you are still guilty of violent physical assault.

The law of the street might agree you did the right thing but few intelligent people can argue that the law of street is a good way to handle inter-communal relations. People who always react with violence to perceived and or real insults usually end up in prison or mental institutions.

So we wait to see just how insulting Mr Wilders will be. His past record suggests he can't see a top without going over it. He's pretty much saying 'You wanna make something of it?' Let's see who does.

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