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Britain should call for reform of existing blasphemy laws

17 September 2012

6:49 PM

17 September 2012

6:49 PM

Around the time that speculation was mounting about Tony Blair’s possible return to British politics last month, I went to a public discussion about faith and public life by the man himself and Rowan Williams in which Charles Moore was both participant — or should I say, combatant — and moderator. It was, as you’d expect, a lively affair in which the two Catholic converts took radically dissimilar views on most things, and Islam in particular. In retrospect, one of the remarks that strikes me as remarkable was Mr Blair’s throwaway contention that inter-faith discussion should be conducted on terms agreeable to the faiths in question. The implication was, though he didn’t say so, that no discussion of Islam would be possible that was critical of any aspect of the life of Mohammed, because that would be uncongenial and offensive to Muslims.

That remark came to mind today when I heard that the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, had not only called for a further week of Muslim protests about the anti-Islamic video from the US doing the rounds on YouTube but for something more far-reaching: an enforceable international law banning insults to Islam and other religions. His remarks weren’t, by the standards of most of the protests, extreme: for what it’s worth, he applauded the fact that they were directed at Americans rather than Christians in general. But it was an unwelcome resurrection of an idea that has been doing the rounds for some time, notably when the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the OIC, tried to get the concept of respect for religion and for Islam accepted by the UN General Assembly in 2008.

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Now, as it happens, Tony Blair has taken quite the right approach to the video, saying that the film was ‘wrong and offensive but also laughable as a piece of film-making — what is dangerous and wrong is the reaction to it’. Just so. But his earlier contention, that discussion of religion should be in respectful terms that their adherents can handle would not just prohibit egregiously offensive anti-Muslim propaganda, like this video, but any critical treatment of Islam. Only last week, Channel 4 had to cancel a screening of Tom Holland’s notably un-provocative documentary about the origins of Islam on security advice. If we are to censor any critical discussion of Islam on the basis of the offence given to Muslims, given the hyper-sensitivity of the community, then we shall find ourselves pre-emptively seeing off serious academic criticism of Islam’s account of itself like Tom Holland’s, let alone more robust analysis, such as ibn Warraq’s Why I am Not A Muslim, or Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, which made creative play with an ambiguous verse in the Quran, let alone the Danish cartoons — which were, remember, originally intended as benign.

And that is why we should worry about Sheikh Nasrallah’s call for an international law against the expression of offensive views on Islam, which takes Tony Blair’s notion of respectful self-censorship to the extreme of legal prohibition. Of course, the British or any Western government is unlikely to run with that one. But Arab governments might well. And if they do, let’s look to Tony Blair’s Faith Foundation, handsomely supported by Arab donors, to make the case against it.

The issue of religious offence-giving and taking isn’t just an academic one for the British government. It has an instance right under its nose, in the shape of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws – the latest victim of which was an unfortunate, withdrawn Christian girl who, reportedly, has Down’s Syndrome, yet was accused of desecrating the Quran. The blasphemy laws are effectively, a means of persecuting Pakistan’s non-Muslim minorities. I spoke recently to one Christian Pakistani couple who said that Christians are terrified of carrying copies of the Quran — and children are effectively obliged to study it — lest they be accused of blasphemy and their homes targeted by mobs. Their child worried about taking his schoolbag, with Quran, with him to the lavatory in case this should be interpreted as an insult. In one case, a Christian man, stumbling against a woman, caused her to drop her Quran on a muddy path, and he was duly targeted by the clerics. This is a life-and-death issue: more long-running, if less dramatic, than the current riots across the Muslim world and much more unlikely to go away.

Britain does have a role here in the form of the enormous sums it provides Pakistan by way of overseas aid — £200 million in 2011. If I were Justine Greening, the new International Development Secretary, I’d make at least part of it dependent on reform of the blasphemy laws.


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Show comments
  • qwertyquayboard

    Galileo was prosecuted for blasphemy.

  • http://twitter.com/ianwalkeruk Ian Walker

    Unfettered free speech is the hallmark of a free society. Given the ‘Twitter Joke Trial’ debacle and other recent thought crimes brought in either by spineless, clueless politicians or corrupt grauniadista judges under their beloved HRA, it’s pretty clear that Britain fails the test rather spectacularly.

    So perhaps we should get our own house in order before we seek to lecture Pakistan or anywhere else.

  • JP

    Okay, then where do I sign up to a law respecting country flags? I would imagine the burning of the American
    flag would be quite offensive to most Americans. (Oh, and quite possibly burning an effigy of
    their president too.)

  • james102

    The Christian preacher arrested a couple of years’ ago in Brighton for saying that the bible condemned homosexuality was really charged under a blasphemy law; he had contradicted a belief that the state believed should be protected by law.
    There was a statement made some years’ ago in the European court that freedom of speech may not apply to anti-European union statements in the same way that blasphemy was not protected by the same right.
    So would those people that are against a blasphemy law extend it to being against the law being used to enforce political conformity such as so-called hate Crimes?

  • Cogito Ergosum

    It’s a pity the article does not mention one of the most trenchant critics of religion: Professor Richard Dawkins. Perhaps that is because he mostly criticises the catholic religion rather than islam.

    But he does argue that religion in general does not deserve respect. Well said, I say! Science has done more for ordinary people in the last 400 years than religion has in the last 4000.

    The universe is vast, pitiless, and godless. Get used to it, people, and grow up.

  • David Lindsay

    Tony Blair tried to introduce such a universal blasphemy law in Britain, and only failed
    by one vote after the then Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong (my MP at the time, and whom I knew well…), sent him home because she had thought that it was in the bag. It is a bad idea. But it is not an idea peculiar to bearded, exotically named, brown men in flowing robes in turbans.

  • james102

    I suppose we do have blasphemy laws but they are to do with
    politically incorrect Hate Crimes rather than religion.

  • Austin Barry

    Isn’t is about time we just said of Islam,”Look, you’re a medieval death cult born of ignorance, sustained by ignorance and displaying ignorance in everything you do and say. Enough is enough.”

    • Frank P

      I once had a boss who was a man of few words. Whenever I submitted a good idea (what else?) with which he agreed (almost always), his answer was always short and sweet. “I concur! Implement soonest!” I cannot think of a better response to your above suggestion which was characteristically to the point and impeccably, albeit a little overly, polite.

      • Daniel Maris

        I have no problem with that. There may be some technicalities, probably resolved by giving the individual a choice between a 50 year sentence and voluntary emigration.

    • Warwick

      @ Austin Barry,
      Very well said.
      But more can be said. Many of these people were born in the West but still they put pressure on their children to reject the standards of the West. They forbid their teenaged daughters to participate in sports, because sportswomen wear apropriate, minimalist costumes.
      The government, and others, could establish hostels, refuges, where teenaged kids could go to escape from their domineering parents and cleanse themselves of the years of religious brainwashing. The kids of certain Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses for example, could also seek refuge there.

  • In2minds

    Malfleur, send the AoC on a mission to the Middle East, are you joking? The man is a first rate idiot and a second rate Christian. It would be better to send Michael Nazir-Ali.

  • Daniel Maris

    First of all let’s not get sidetracked by the blasphemy issue (just as we should not get obsessed by honour killings). Plenty of societies have had blasphemy laws without threatening our constitution and that of other democratic countries.

    Islam is a specific threat to us. Sharia law seeks to turn us (non Muslims) into disenfranchised second class citizens, as they have done to Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians in Muslim-dominated countries e.g. Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia etc.

    Abroad the Muslim Brotherhood and the Iranian Theocrats are seeking to re-establish a Caliphate, uniting Muslims in a nuclear armed super-state capable of confronting the European democracies. At home, we now have millions here who detest democracy and freedom and wish to see Sharia installed.

    • David Lindsay

      Morsi’s speech to the recent Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran, cheering on the Syrian insurgents, made it abundantly clear that he and Iran had nothing in common. Well, beyond the Christians in his government mirroring the reserved Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian representation in the Iranian Parliament. Stop watching James Bond and imagining that it is real.

      • Curnonsky

        Morsi and Ahmadinejad have everything in common – they just disagree on who should lead the Muslim crusade against the West. Watching them is like watching two scorpions in a bottle; we can only hope they each succeed in killing the other.

        • David Lindsay

          Madness. Utter, utter, utter madness. Whatever happened to Toryism?

          • Curnonsky

            Toryism? Your political tendency sounds more like Mosley-ism, or indeed Fascism.

          • Daniel Maris

            David Lindsay – Whatever happened to rationality? You seem to have flown the nest of rationality for the tempting blue skies of make-believe oblivion.

      • Daniel Maris

        So what? Trotsky had little in common with Stalin – doesn’t mean they weren’t broadly pursuing the same goals.

        David Lindsay – your comments are generally a self-satisfied stream of fancy. These are no different. There is no “representation” of Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians in anything that can be described as a “parliament” in Iran. Iran doesn’t have a parliament. It is has a rigged pretence of a parliament. The minority religions have some tame monkeys there on suffrance – as long as they jump up and down and hoot their approval of the mad mullahs from time to time as required.

        You really are deluded. And as for James Bond – here’s the news: there really was an organisation called SMERSH and it really was dedicated to the downfall of the democracies.

        • David Lindsay

          Well, we really have found your level at last. I only hope that you never again expect to be taken seriously on here. You never will be.

          It is in fact easier for minor parties and Independents to secure ballot access in Iran than it is in many of the United States of America.

          And I do love your hysteria at the fact that there is minority religious representation in the Iranian Parliament; the Constitution says that Iran has four fundamental religions: Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism.

          For the sake of your mental health, such as it is, I had better not mention the reserved Christian representation in Jordan, or the reserved Christian representation on the Palestinian Authority. Or the Christians being appointed to high office by President Morsi in the new Egypt, even though most of them voted for Shafiq; a Christian Vice-President is on the way. Or the fact that there were Christians as Cabinet Ministers in Iraq 10 years ago, but there certainly aren’t now. Whatever might have happened in the meantime? And why would any sane person want to do the same thing to Syria?

          Then there are the more women than men at university in Iran. And the women being appointed to high office by President Morsi in the new Egypt; a woman Vice-President is on the way, not something that America has ever managed. And the higher proportion of women in the Parliament of Pakistan, basket case though that country is in all sorts of other ways, than in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. And the fact that the Iraqi Government of 10 years ago had awards from the UN for educating women and for elevating their status, whereas none such is expected to be won by the present Iraqi Government. Whatever might have happened in the meantime? And why would any sane person want to do the same thing to Syria?

          Of course, no sane person would want to do the same thing to Syria, and then, such is the nature of these things, to Lebanon as well. But not everyone is sane. Evidently.

          • Daniel Maris

            David Lindsay – May you continue to live happily in the fantasy world you have created. I feel about you much as I do the mad women communing with pigeons in the park, as they fling the breadcrumbs into the air. Why should I intrude upon their world with mention of psittacosis, avian fungal infections perpetuated by breadcrumbs, or the fact that some people might not like hordes of pigeons being attracted to the park?

            There could be 95% women in the universities of Iran, the Mullahs would still not allow them any influence in government. Remember- this constitution was drawn up by a guy who married a pre-pubescent girl to demonstrate his faith in Mohammed’s way.

            • David Lindsay

              Woman have no influence in Iran? Oh, what’s the use?

              • Daniel Maris

                Where did I say “women have no influence in Iran.” ? Answer: nowhere. The false quotation is always a sure sign of an intellectual vacuum. My point was that women are not allowed into the highest reaches of government. That is clearly true.

          • Nicholas

            Where do you get your information on the government of Iran? You seem to have no idea of how it actually works in practice. Your descriptions read almost as though you admire it. I must presume your source is the current Iranian regime. You should learn to distinguish between propaganda and truth. But then you are the one who believes Margaret Thatcher was responsible for the demise of our grammar schools. Do you really believe that what David Lindsay pontificates is how the world is?

          • Nicholas

            Where do you get your information on the government of Iran? You seem to have no idea of how it actually works in practice. Your descriptions read almost as though you admire it. I must presume your source is the current Iranian regime. You should learn to distinguish between propaganda and truth. But then you are the one who believes Margaret Thatcher was responsible for the demise of our grammar schools. Do you really believe that what David Lindsay pontificates is how the world is?

  • Malfleur

    Something else which Britain could do would be to send the Archbishop of Canterbury on a mission to the Christians of the Middle East before his retirement to reinforce support for them by the civilized world and to oppose blasphemy against the Christian religion.

    After retirement would be good too.

  • Russell

    I certainly don’t want savages running around with beards wearing a bedsheet accompanied by women covered from head to toe in my country demanding sharia law.

    I hope the Speccie offices don’t get attacked as a result of posting my comment!

  • David Lindsay

    “for what it’s worth, he applauded the fact that they were directed at Americans rather than Christians in general”

    He has excellent relations with “Christians in general”, and those among his compatriots not only sit in coalition with his organisation, but see it as their own last line of defence against the enemy to the south. He warmly welcomed the Pope to Lebanon in the last few days.

    There is all the difference in the world between having a blasphemy law and executing people for breaking it. We had a blasphemy law until very recently. One of the MPs who voted against repealing it is now the Attorney General. And why not? There is nothing wrong with proclaiming within and through the law the things that are most fundamentally sacred to the society in question.

    But there is a great deal wrong with not doing so, or with restricting that proclamation to the values, themselves read through a later prism, of the French and American Revolutions. That is hardly even neoconservatism. That is no conservatism, no critique of either capitalist or Marxist materialism, and from the West’s point of view no defence against Islam.

  • Moxon

    Or even offensive to Jesus Christ, that he is not fully divine.

    • David Lindsay

      That was technically the law of this land until very recent years.

  • In2minds

    Exactly, I find anything said by Tony Blair is wrong and offensive but also laughable, but I cope. Your pic, that hat! That made me laugh too.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    So, a bearded terrorist savage sitting in a medieval hell-hole wants to stop anyone calling Islam a sewer of hatred and oppression fit only for cowards and intellectual cripples?
    I can picture Obama and dave drawing up the legislation right now. Perhaps it could be introduced in tandem with the ‘gay marriage’ Bill as it may as well be illegal to object to that as well.

    • David Lindsay

      Do you mean Lebanon? You really do know absolutely nothing.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Yes, I mean Hezbollah’s little fiefdom in that benighted land. It is you who know nothing. To suggest that the Lebanon is some kind of coherent single entity where, for instance, Christian’s and muslims are living in har-mon-ee sharing lovely cuisine before they pop off to some agreeable hotel bar is utter Guardianista horsehite.
        Lindsay – you are an arrogant prick.

        • David Lindsay

          Apart from the subversive activities among the Sunnis of our dear friends in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon is now a very cohesive place, on account of being under constant attack from our dear friends in Israel. There is nothing like all being bombed together, to bring people together.

          And there has been a genuine process of encounter since the 1980s, in which you are probably still living in all sorts of ways, by no means only in this one. Lebanese Christians now pray publicly for the success of Hezbollah, which is closely allied to several of their own political parties, whether the Melkites of the Skaff Bloc, the Armenians of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the broad Christian base of the Solidarity Party, or the Maronites of El Marada (yes, it really is called that) and of General Aoun’s (yes, General Aoun’s) Free Patriotic Movement. Even Amal was partly founded by the then Melkite Archbishop of Beirut. Though they are all under a Sunni Prime Minister as well as under a Maronite President, since the Constitution requires both. The Wahhabisation of Sunni Lebanon by our closest regional ally is manifestly far from complete.

          I say again that you do not have the first clue what you are talking about. Tell me what a Melkite is. Or what a Maronite is. Or why one might say “El Marada (yes, it really is called that)”. Or why one might say “General Aoun’s (yes, General Aoun’s)”. Or how there come to be Armenians in Lebanon, and what is most notable about them, although there are several possible answers to that one. No looking anything up, now.

          • Hexhamgeezer

            Sorry, as soon as I read ‘ on account of being under constant attack from our dear friends in Israel’ i realised that you were off on a box ticking run around of the I-spy book of contemporay Lebanon.
            And as for ‘ No looking anything up, now’ did I mention you are an arrogant prick?

            • David Lindsay

              My point is proved. Not a clue.

              • Hexhamgeezer

                zzzzzzz……………..

                • David Lindsay

                  There was no violence at all at the enormous rally addressed by Nasrallah in an extremely rare personal appearance; he normally speaks via video link for fear of getting what his predecessor got. The chants were all “Don’t Insult The Prophet” rather than calling for anyone’s death or anything like that.

                  For rioting and for blood-curdling oaths, you needed the previous rally in Tripoli (the Lebanese one, not the Libyan one), against both this film and the Papal Visit. It was organised by the Salafi, who are increasingly taking over Tripoli. Under the patronage of the great backer of the insurgency in Syria, our closest ally in the region, Saudi Arabia.

                • Daniel Maris

                  Why can’t we insult this “Prophet”? You insult lots of people. Why is this Prophet guy, who is only human, even according to Muslims, special?

                • David Lindsay

                  The makers of Innocence of Muslims obviously think that he is. They have got what they wanted, and I don’t know why they are not glad. In fact, I don’t know *that* they are not glad. I expect that they are. (But I don’t believe for one moment that they are in nay meaningful Coptic, by the way. Someone is trying to stir up problems between the Muslims and the Copts, for reasons of their own.)

                  Chanting against this sort of thing is itself an expression of freedom of speech, which itself is not unlimited even in the United States, the Constitution of which makes no claim to be propounding universal principles. The Declaration of Independence sort of does. But the Constitution doesn’t at all. It is unapologetically a work of political expediency in its time and place.

                  Even international post-War expressions of these principles still need to be seen in that light: their authors had more pragmatic and prosaic agenda of their own, and they did not necessarily mean by these terms what might be meant by them today. Furthermore, freedom of expression is not necessarily freedom from the entirely predictable, even sought after, consequences. It can be. But it isn’t always.

                  Whoever made this film knew that there would be a reaction, although they might not have expected one quite so big; Nasrallah appearing in person is enormous news. They *wanted* a reaction. That was why they made it. Insofar as they have endangered American citizens and interests, then that is how the American authorities ought to regard them. And those authorities show every sign of doing just that.

                • Daniel Maris

                  David Lindsay – I find what you are saying objectionable. Will you please stop? Answer on a postcard to Mecca Central c/o “Behead You If You Don’t Agree” Charitable Foundation, please.

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2FI6O6Q7XPG6KCIUFIPXMYDCZ4 john

                  “As part of his entreaty for the passage of UN Resolution 16/18, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish Muslim head of the OIC, issued a veiled threat implying that the failure to act against religious “hate speech” would result in acts of Islamic terrorism. It appears that the overriding purpose of the resolution is to limit and criminalize criticism of Islam. The resolution also would place the blame for terrorist attacks on its victims for their non-compliance with Islamic doctrine, or sharia, which prohibits criticism of Islam under threat of death.”

                • Hexhamgeezer

                  Well, I’ll have to take your word for that as I cant ‘look it up’. I’ll stick with the 80s (as in 580’s) and John Moschos’ picture of the Holy Land.
                  And btw – I’ll withdraw the ‘pr!ck’ comment.

  • Adrian Drummond

    Any doctrine that appears incapable of verbally defending its position without a resort to violence, must by definition be flawed.

    • telemachus

      As the Pope said to Richard Coeur de Lion

  • RationalSpeculation

    I really wish Western politicians would grow a pair. Free speech is one of the fundamental tenets of our civilisation (or it used to be) and it would be refreshing to hear someone acknowledge that and stand up for it rather than tying themselves in knots trying to avoid “giving offense”. I disagree with what you say etc.

    • james102

      Our loss of free speech can be added to the enrichment we
      have had as a result of open doors immigration.

      As for Blair’s views—on this and most other
      things—nothing needs to be said.

      • telemachus

        It is actually called respect for others.
        If free speech leads to sacking of Embassies and murder of Ambassadors, do we really want to be so sanctimonious.

        • Malfleur

          First read the cultural enrichment archive to educate yourself; then return and comment:

          http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2009/07/cultural-enrichment-archives.html

        • Nicholas

          So you believe in the intimidation of free speech by murder, arson and looting. In other words we must respect you or you’ll kill us. Not a surprising attitude from someone who admires Stalin but still repulsive on a scale of 10 out of 10.

        • Hexhamgeezer

          Yes, we really must condemn those westerners and Israelis for their over the top lethal responses to the tide of murderous exhortations produced every single day in the Arab media.
          Tel me tele, were you a camp guard in a previous life – soviet or nazi ?- your autopilot rag-bag of Guardianofascist cliches seems to suggest so.

          • telemachus

            Is not your last paragraph what led Ken into trouble?

        • Malfleur

          By calling for “respect for others”, you mean of course Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism

          You are – George Galloway – and I claim my prize, a ₤100 donation to http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ !

          • telemachus

            Do I need to inform HMRC?

        • Hugh

          But I don’t respect those who react violently and murder when their feelings are hurt.

    • http://georgeigler.com/ George Igler

      I would point you to my institute and its work:
      http://www.discourseinstitute.org
      we are endeavoring to do precisely that.

      We argue that blasphemy laws are unworkable in pluralist societies, by definition. Because every religion is a blasphemy to every other; it is the nature of theology. It’s a wonder that Secretary General Nasrallah is unaware of this.

      • telemachus

        If y’all have any money left after clicking the vicar’s Paypal

        Finally, if you would like to protect the proud tradition of freedom of expression that Britain has helped to create and have the resources to do so in a financial way, we would very much like to hear from you.

        This copied from the Iger site.

        • http://georgeigler.com/ George Igler

          Prepare yourself for a shock. Lawfare costs money.

          • michael

            “Lawfare” = justice… Fatwa = ?

    • Daniel Maris

      When the followers of Islam are angry with you, then you know you are following the right policy. When they appear content with your policy, you should be worried.

  • http://www.coffeehousewall.co.uk/ Coffeehousewall

    Britain should not be involved in Pakistan at all. All Aid should cease immediately. If the Government starts trying to modify Pakistani law using Aid as a stick then do you not realise that the Christian community in Pakistan will just become more of a target, associated with a crusading Western agenda.

    It is trade that must be contingent on human rights. And other Muslim countries must also be targetted. In Saudi Arabia, apparently a wonderful ally of the UK, the expression of our Christian faith is illegal, there are no Churches and where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ they are likely to find the door being kicked in, and the religious police dragging them off to prison.

    We should not be providing Aid in the hope that people will be nice. We should not send any Aid whatsoever until certain standards are reached. And if they are not then no Aid should be sent under any circumstances.

    • Daniel Maris

      I agree with this. It is immoral to send aid to countries that for instance ban Church services, allow indiscriminate violence and sexual assault against memebrs of other faiths, who ethnically cleanse Jews and Christians from their lands and so on and who intend doing nothing to change their practices.

      No aid and on trade. There are plenty of poor democratic countries who deserve our trade and aid.

      • David Lindsay

        Quite so. Although I am not sure which Jews have ever been ethnically cleansed from Pakistan.

        Now imagine, if you will, a country in which the Christians, though a minority, were so numerous that they constituted the majority in certain provinces, and that Christian festivals were public holidays. Imagine a smaller, neighbouring, and it must be said far more democratic one in which the Christians were so numerous that the President and half of the MPs, including the Deputy Speaker, had to be Christians by law.

        Would it not make sense to side with those two countries against two states founded on the bloody mass expulsion of most of the aboriginal Christian populations, both within the last 80 years and one in the post-War period, as well as two hardline Islamic absolute monarchies.

        And yet we support Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, today in Syria, and if that succeeds then tomorrow in Lebanon, too. Cheered on by Israel, the other three have actually invaded Syria. The Saudis are already destabilising Lebanon through the promotion of Salafism within the Sunni population (from which the Prime Minister has to be drawn, whereas the Speaker has to be a Shi’ite). The Israelis habitually bomb the place, so that the Christians identify Hezbollah as their own defenders, cheerfully sitting in coalition with it.

        • Daniel Maris

          Couldn’t be bothered to google why yet another Jewish community has been wiped out in the Muslim world?

          *ttp://jewishrefugees.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/whatever-happened-to-jews-of-pakistan.html

          “Anti-Zionism begins: On August 15, 1947, India was partitioned
          and the Dominion of Pakistan was declared. Partition effectively signaled the
          end of the British Empire. Fearful of their future in the new Islamic state,
          Jews began to flee. Some fled from Afghanistan; the Bene Israel community in
          Lahore fled to Karachi and from there moved to Bombay. Muslim refugees from
          India, called Mohajir, streamed into Pakistan and attacked Jewish sites. The
          situation was exacerbated by the declaration of independence for the state of
          Israel in May 1948. Many of the Karachi Jews left the city in 1948, after
          rioters attacked the Karachi synagogue during a demonstration in May of that
          year against President Truman’s recognition of Israel. Some members of the
          community emigrated to Israel via India, while others settled in Canada and the
          United Kingdom.

          Pogroms against the Jews recurred during the Suez War in
          1956 and the Six-Day War in 1967. Most of the remaining Jews emigrated and, in
          1968, the Pakistani Jewish community numbered only 350 in Karachi, with one
          synagogue, a welfare organization, and a recreational organization. After 1968,
          there is no record of any Pakistani Jews outside Karachi.”

          • David Lindsay

            Googling these things is not my research methodology, luv.

            • Daniel Maris

              Hence your woeful (if wilful) ignorance I guess.

        • telemachus

          I am heartened by this common sense.
          Knee jerk antisemetism and Islamophobia are both reprehensible

          • Noa

            pompous ass!

  • Chris

    No civilised society should have blasphemy laws, they are an affront to free speech and expression.

    • telemachus

      Or you could think about the offence caused by Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Last Temptation of Christ.’ Or you could think about the juxtaposition of holocaust denial and laws about anti-semitism.
      It is all about respect.
      We should perhaps go back to a time when it was socially offensive to decry Jesus. Yahweh and yes Muhammad. Society and ostracism should be the punishment.

      • el_uro

        I thought, respect is something one should deserve. These guys who killed the ambassador (the worst kind of crime even in most primitive societies), do they deserve any kind of respect? Or guys who are demanded for beheading, what kind of respect do they deserve?
        Or, may be, respect means something absolutely new in our modern leftist world?

        • telemachus

          If there were respect there would be a live Ambassador

          • el_uro

            No! Because they would find another reason otherwise! You are lying to yourself and to us.
            To be honest, I’m sure, you are lying intentionally.

            • Frank P

              “lying intentionally” – tautology alert – (in the case of a falsehood). If you mean presenting himself in a prone position for the delectation of the expedient Unholy Alliance of the Neo-Marxist Internationale/Islamic jihad, then you’re spot on.

              • michael

                Al tikiya.

          • Nicholas

            I think that is probably the single most disgusting thing you have ever written. Especially since the Ambassador played no part in the “disrespect”. He was an innocent victim. Only an insect like you could apologise for murder and blame the victims instead. Oh, hang on, a lot of you disgusting lefties are doing exactly the same thing.

            • telemachus

              I do not apologise for or justify murder.
              The Ambassador was an innocent victim of someone elses actions, someone who hid behind the doctrine of free speech not realising the consequences.
              Or perhaps more sinisterly might glory in provocation.
              Sorry there is an alternative point of view

              • Nicholas

                You really have no idea of the implications of your comment do you? That the question of whether free speech is acceptable should be dependent on whether it provokes a violent and criminal response from a bunch of savages. Your brain must be the size of a pea. Sadly you are not alone. There are so many lefties like you with similarly depraved ideas of twisted moral relativism and sadly that is largely why we are where we are.

          • Curnonsky

            This comment is a new low.

            • telemachus

              I am sorry you dont agree but you can bet the author of the film is glorying in the chaos he has provoked

          • Hugh

            If those protesting were worthy of respect there would be a live ambassador.

      • RationalSpeculation

        Surely the point is that no-one tried to burn down an American embassy after “The Last Temptation”, and I’m reasonably certain the Pope didn’t issue a fatwa after “The Life of Brian” calling for the head of John Cleese.

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