LibLink: Nick Clegg We must always be free to criticise ideas, even religious ones

A powerful article in today’s Telegraph passionately defending the right to free speech by Nick Clegg:

Every so often we are confronted by events that force each of us to take a clear stand – and a side. The attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo was just such a moment, demanding a straight answer to a simple question: “are you Charlie?” You don’t have to agree with everything, or even anything, that Charlie Hebdo published to “be Charlie” – you only have to wish to protect the freedoms and rights that define liberal societies like ours.

Liberalism is a set of values – a belief in freedom and equality before the law – that needs to be defended and explained, fearlessly and without qualification. In a multicultural society like ours, it is our shared values, not our national symbols, that ultimately bind us. Our open society is a precious thing. Only by being clear about those values and why they benefit all of us collectively will we expose an important truth: that the overwhelming majority of British citizens, of all faiths and backgrounds, would not hesitate to declare “Je suis Charlie.”

The debate about the limits of free speech is an old one, which we need now as much as ever. It is complex but I am clear where I stand – with the actor Rowan Atkinson, who once said “to criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous. But to criticize their religion, that is a freedom, a right.” Nor, as he explained, is it a frivolous right, a licence to “gob off” but rather that “the freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas, even if they are sincerely held beliefs, is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.”

You can read the whole article here

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48 Comments

  • Bill le Breton 9th Jan '15 - 5:58pm

    This and his radio performance is impressive and worthy.

  • This is Nick Clegg at his best. I received an e-mail today from a friend in Australia who told me that “your Nick Clegg has become quite a hit here” with his comments articulating what many feel in the aftermath of the recent Sydney siege.

  • Tsar Nicolas 9th Jan '15 - 6:24pm

    To say that ‘I am Charlie’ requires more than a commitment to free speech – it implies that I have to buy into the officials story of what happened. My view is that this whole affair was more about geopolitics than free speech.

    Of course, we shall never know since the two suspects named by the police are now (conveniently) dead and will never be able to give their side of the story, if indeed they had a side of the story to give.

    Full kudos though to whoever dreamed up ‘Je Suis Charlie,’ even though I suspect that whoever it was probably works in an office in Langley, Fort Meade or even Cheltenham.

  • jedibeeftrix 9th Jan '15 - 6:39pm

    This is Nick Clegg at his best.

  • Nick T Nick Thornsby 9th Jan '15 - 7:32pm

    This is one of the best articles Clegg has ever written. Reminiscent of his days as Lib Dem home affairs spokesman. He is at his best when he is at his most liberal.

  • Richard Church 9th Jan '15 - 7:36pm

    Nick deserves real credit for this article. No other party leader will say so clearly that religious ideas should be subject to open criticism just as much as any other ideas. I am pleased too that he talks positively about our multicultural society, a term now so regularly abused that few politicians dare use it.

  • Further to my earlier post, I’ve now received an e-mail from another Australian friend commending Nick.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Jan '15 - 8:05pm

    I got so frustrated with Clegg’s article that I stopped reading it after the second paragraph.

    His first mistake is to talk about “open versus closed politics” – the same kind of Blairite thinking that led to the “Party of IN” strategy.

    His second mistake is to criticise the claim of “something must be done”. Plenty of people are frightened right now and one thing they want is “something to be done”.

  • Helen Tedcastle 9th Jan '15 - 8:26pm

    ‘ Some of those who died on Wednesday had drawn cartoons which they knew were offensive to others. But no one ever deserves to be killed just because they have caused offence.’

    I think Nick is absolutely right on this.

    @ Richard Church

    I’m not that’s really true. I don’t think anyone in British society outside of extremists advocates closing down robust and honest debate on religious ideas. Of course there are people who object to gratuitous mockery and insults – which is passed off as argument when it is nothing of the sort – but that is not the same as wanting a real encounter in debate, for example between secularism and religious pluralism in a diverse society.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jan '15 - 8:34pm

    I agree with Nick Clegg.

    An excellent and heart-felt defence of Liberal values and liberal society.

    I also agree with Nick Thornsby “He is at his best when he is at his most liberal.”

  • Richard Church 9th Jan '15 - 9:37pm

    Helen,
    It’s only a few years since the blasphemy laws were repealed, and only a few more years since people sought to use those laws to silence materials critical of Christianity. I don’t think other political leaders will spell out as clearly and as unequivocally that religion should be as open to criticism as other ideas, but if they do, then great.

  • jedibeeftrix 9th Jan '15 - 9:52pm

    Richard, while true, you have to consider the relative damage done to society’s ability to speak freely.

    Number of prosecutions for blasphemy:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_the_United_Kingdom#Number_of_prosecutions

    do you know how many people have been investigated (not quite the same thing), under the current incitement to ‘x’ hatred laws were brought in?
    I understand them to number in the thousands… in just a couple or more years!

  • Helen Tedcastle 9th Jan '15 - 10:30pm

    Richard

    But Nick also says clearly via Rowan Atkinson that freedom of speech and expression is not a frivolous one. It is not one where people can have the licence ‘gob off’ (not a pleasant phrase) but the freedom to criticise ideas and beliefs.

    In the society we have now, this seems to me to strike the right balance.

    How disappointing then that in some quarters of our media and elsewhere, there are people who think that the mark of a liberal society is about deliberately offending, mocking and insulting gratuitously, to meet their need to prove their freedom trumps any regard for social cohesion.

  • Stevan Rose 10th Jan '15 - 1:22am

    Je suis Charlie.

  • Helen, what if you honestly believe that certain ideas espoused by certain religions, or by some members of religions, or by certain persons using religion as a cloak, are themselves dangerous for social cohesion? Don’t they then have a right or even a duty to get that into the public discourse where it can be discussed — and agreed with, or disagreed with, as the case may be? What gain does society get if those questions are pushed under the rug?

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '15 - 6:57am

    One of your PPC made some remarks about Ruth online, she was a Convert. This was a while ago, and I felt it needless. Also, several Jews were involved and died in the Kosher supermarket. The growing antisemitism in Europe is frightening and I would consider a vote to cone out of it.

    My condolences go everyone, and to those who spend their Shabbat grieving.

    By the way, that PPC made my mind up to have nothing to do with your party in the future.

  • “the freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas, even if they are sincerely held beliefs, is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.”

    Even I agree with Clegg on this one.

  • Helen Dudden
    I am not sure what your starting point was when you said that there is growing antisemitism in Europe.
    All the evidence seems to point to a dramatic reduction in antisemitism compared to my father’s day.
    In the 1930s the local golf club here in Kingston upon Thames would not allow Jewish members. This is why there are now two golf courses — a second club was set up with a rather more liberal membership policy.
    Evidence that within living memory there has been a major improvement in attitudes.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '15 - 8:18am

    My remarks are correct, and I have been in contact with the EU on the subject.

    Prejudice runs very high at present, I suggest you read the Jewish Chronicle on line.

    As I stated, one of your PPC’ had comments too, also I have written through my own Conservative MP with the need to improve on ideas where Kosher foods were removed from supermarket shelves.

    I feel very sorry for with a narrow mind, that too is one thing I am told is a failing with human nature.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Jan '15 - 10:32am

    The growing level of Islamophobia and hate crimes in the UK, and Europe is frightening. We saw the Dresden far right demonstrations last week. There has been a large number of attacks on mosques in France in the aftermath of the terrible events in Paris. Unpleasant tabloid headlines here in the UK, over halal meat, Trojan horse schools, Muslims not liking dogs ( not true) sharia law taking over the UK, have been fuelling this, and threaten to further marginalise communities, & create tensions. Those attacking the UKs multicultural society, should look at the French policy of assimilation, which has marginalised its 5m Muslims, who make up 70% of its prison population, and ask if that model has worked.

  • Neil Sandison 10th Jan '15 - 10:46am

    Are the Liberal Democrats finally getting their Mojo back and have begun again through this speech by Nick Clegg ,comments by Tim Farron and the artical by Vince Cable rediscovering liberalism rather than just appologising for the actions of the coalition ?.
    Being a liberal democrat is instictive to those of us on the progressive side of politics who reject simplistic left right arguements .The right to constructively question ideological dogma from what ever source is the only way to counter the ignorance and hatred be it from terrorism or prejudice.

  • Helen Tedcastle 10th Jan '15 - 10:47am

    David-1

    I am amazed at your comment. I said that in some quarters of the media in London, there are calls for publication of the cartoons as a response to the murders at Charlie Hebdo – to show how needful it is to demonstrate freedom over the extremists. I have said repeatedly on here that these satirists had the right to publish their magazine and the right not to be killed, even if I dislike and am offended by the content.

    But let’s examine what these members of the press that I object to say.

    They say that we should publish and be damned and expect that muslims should accept the cartoons and that if they don’t they should leave the country. members of other religions who don’t like further publication in the papers at this time, should also leave the country.

    This sentiment was expressed twice on the television, once on Question Time and then on This Week. On Question Time, the call for muslims and others to leave if they don’t like the cartoons, received a ‘heartfelt’ and emotional round of applause.

    Then Vince Cable pointed out that in a liberal society, a free society, does not mean that one should go into a crowded cinema and shout ‘Fire’! Liberalism is not about unfettered free licence to offend, mock, belittle as a way of trumping one set of freedoms over another. It’s about protection of liberties for all not for some who need to provoke and go out of our way to offend, in order to ‘triumph’ over extremists who who do not represent muslims in France or the UK.

    That this has to be spelled out is frightening.

    As Helen Dudden points out, there has been a huge rise in anti-semitism and also Islamophobia across Europe. So yes, social cohesion is a consideration at this time or should be by any reasonable person.

  • Top appraisal by Nick, I agree with Merel’s point that the French assimilation method (trying to make everyone the same) has failed. On the other hand, I’m not sure what’s worked and the appeals to anti-semitism and anti-muslim sentiment do little for me. Anti-semitism rises every time Israel attacks Gaza, and anti-Muslim sentiment seems mainly driven by suicide bombers and gunmen. Somewhere along the way the debate has got so silly that it’s deemed prejudice to bring these 100% obvious points up, and that’s led to UKIP and despair. Only a clearer narrative can cut through the noise, and I feel that’s what Nick’s started to do; it’s heartening that in these dark moments liberals are mainly in consensus.

  • Alex Sabine 10th Jan '15 - 1:41pm

    Again, kudos to Nick Clegg for such a forthright and passionate, yet reasoned, defence of free expression when it would be easy for political leaders to trim and equivocate in the current circumstances. I agree with Nick Thornsby that it is on these sorts of issues that Clegg seems to find a clear voice and some liberal backbone. Credit where it is due.

    I agree with Clegg and Rowan Atkinson on the key distinction between criticising someone’s race and their religion. However I do think that even sentiments or statements that are “manifestly irrational and ridiculous” should not be banned by law. Instead we should challenge them, point out their absurdity, and, yes, ridicule those who express them.

    The law (as opposed to all decent people in civil society) should only intervene at the point where individuals are subject to harrassment or specific threats. Sometimes defining and patrolling this line will prove difficult – inevitably there are grey areas – but in my view this should be the test we apply as best we can. If instead you say that offensive remarks pertaining to innate characteristics (eg race or sexuality) should also be prosecuted then there are still plenty of grey areas but the whole paradigm has shifted in an illiberal direction.

    We are confronted with manifestly ridiculous or irrational statements by all sorts of people all the time (and not only on social media!). In response to this it can be very tempting to seek to silence the proponents rather than argue with them, lampoon them or simply ignore them. This temptation must be resisted. As so often with liberalism the power of the state is a blunt instrument and legislators must take a self-denying ordinance.

  • Helen D and Helen T, first and foremost, I admit to having never heard of these cartoons prior to this event, nor do I find them particularly inspiring or tasteful after it; however, that is not the point here. You are correct in so far as to say that the right to freedom of expression (not just speech) is not an unfettered right, but it is not restricted in so far as to restrict one’s right to offend.

    Now, I agree that social and emotional sensitivity are not negative things – and think that to act to deliberately offend others can often be a negative thing, but it is not something that the law or any other social function should be restricting.

    Why? Three reasons:

    1 = there are many ways to make a powerful message and prove a point: sometimes purposefully showing another just how bizarre their beleifs, ideals or ideals are by reducing it to its most ridiculous and offensive can be a powerful to achieve this. Comedies from Blackadder to Little Britain can be said have been doing this. You may say that these cartoons did not achieve this at all and were just rude, but it is a dangerous and hard line to draw that better for the individual’s own judgement to make than the state to enforce. I found ‘Little Britain’ rather offensive, instead of critical, but rather than calling for it to be banned it for all, I just did not watch it, and allowed those individuals making it and watching it to make their own judgements. No harm of something being lost to society just because I did not get or agree with it.

    2 = What is offensive to one is truth to another. It is worth noting that most religions would be first on the copping block if we were to restrict rights to say and do offensive things. Could we have had a debate on equal marriage if we had restricted the right to say offensive things? No, because many of the strongly held beleifs expressed by religious individuals in that debate were quite offensive to large numbers of society, and those expressing them often knew this. You again may say that there is a difference between a legitimate debate – and just being offensive, but again that is not a line for society and the state to draw for the individual.

    3 = Finally, there is a practical point that when we restrict one’s legit right to criticise others in open, they do it underground – and when they do it underground, there is no room for other sections of society to criticise their beleifs or expressions, meaning you end up with the echo chamber effect of many people agreeing with each other’s strongly held beleifs, only making those beleifs more extreme, leading to much worse ideas and images than Charlie being created. One could say that the extremism we see in minorities in Muslim is in part created by this effect. There is a reason that these extremists are often marginalised individuals who are part of an already marginalised community.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '15 - 3:50pm

    I agree with the last comment on some points. The events were extreme points of how four people saw the situation. We can’t now find out the reasoning as they are unable to speak on their actions.

    I was offended by your PPC, her comments felt vindictive, not simply an offensive joke. I know your Party comments about my faith and the Jewish people in a way I have answered to many times, very recently writing to David Ward and explaining my feelings.

    Five Jews died, more were held hostage, very little written to offer sympathy here.

  • Helen, I am sorry that this PPC offended you. I admit to not knowing enough about the event, so I will not comment on how justified (or not) the comments made may have been, but I will this: many of the things I often hear in political discourse are offensive in some way. It can be directly offensive to me in the sense that I often have to suffer to indignation of my partner and I being considered second class citizens and state robbers (despite neither of using ever using benefits and my whole family working in the NHS) just because I dared to fall in love with someone who was born on a plot of land that is separate from our own by a bit of water. Or it can be indirectly offensive to me: i.e. a men drinking beer and smoking talking of how ‘immigrants’ are the ones damaging our service.

    However, I also think that to censor such comments can only lead to worse harms overall. In that vine, I respect that it may be that you feel the political views held by the Lib Dems and their ways of expressing them are ones you cannot agree with or support, but had our PPC not felt able to make those comments, then you would not have been able to judge her based on a fair reflection of who she really is. Does that make sense?

    We need political figures to somewhat open, so we can judge them.

  • Stevan Rose 10th Jan '15 - 6:07pm

    I read a French commentator, Agnes Poirier in The Standard and the article seems freely available online, saying that an issue in France is decades of tolerance of intolerance and an answer is to be firmly intolerant of intolerance, with those who disagree knowing where the door is. She makes some sense to me. We perhaps need to clarify some terms. Inciting religious hatred must be illegal, but causing offence or disrespect must not be or it undermines our entire society. Our leaders must unite in saying so. Alternatively you leave it to the likes of UKIP to espouse an essentially liberal position.

  • Helen Tedcastle: I don’t know what you found so “amazing” about my comment, but I guess I’m glad you noticed it.

    It seems to me that you are implying a balance between “free speech” and “social cohesion,” and that one has to have one, or the other, or some of one and some of the other, but never all of both. I don’t see why that must be so: the two things don’t seem to me to be directly opposed, or even measurable by the same scale.

    I posed my question to try to point out that the kinds of speech which you see as dangerous to “social cohesion” might well be viewed by others as necessary to it. It’s clear from the commentary I’ve read on the French side that many people in France believe that the cohesion of their national society is threatened by certain points of view, and that satire of the sort seen in Charlie Hebdo is a necessary corrective.

    I don’t buy that either, and think France would do better to adopt a pluricentric model of national identity. But nonetheless, if some French are using “social cohesion” to come to a conclusion exactly opposite to the one you reach on the same basis, then “social cohesion” doesn’t mean much, does it? It’s an emotionally evocative term, raising fears of anarchy and rioting in the streets, etc., but each political faction can then pack the term with specific plans of action, saying “inhibit comments critical of Islam” or “outlaw religious sects that don’t pass a political threshold” according to their own prejudices.

    Trying to balance freedom of speech against “social cohesion” fails a basic test: it gives us no idea what we should actually do. At least freedom of speech absolutists achieve a well-defined agenda, even if neither you nor I would deem it a wholly practical one.

  • There is one more thing which I have not seen mentioned.

    “Religion” is being treated in these discussions as if it were one sort of thing: differing in details, but fundamentally capable of being treated as a unit. I do not believe this to be so. I am not speaking of the difference between religions, but rather, a difference in what religion is to people.

    In one interpretation, religion is a set of beliefs, which can be read in books, discussed philosophically, debated, approved or condemned, cheered or mocked. This is the kind of religion which gets taught about in schools. I would sincerely hope that no liberal would agree that the ideas contained in Islam should be protected from intellectual critique, or that anybody should be forbidden from, say, denying the prophethood of Muḥammad, or the inspiration of the Qurʾān, or debating, from any point of view, the merits of Sharīʿah.

    However, the word religion is also used to cover certain signs of a group identity: rituals, forms of dress, the way people wear their hair, the foods they will and won’t eat, whether they’ll allow a photograph to be taken, their overall social and political worldview. These things often have only a tenuous connection with the intellectual propositions involved in the previous notion of religion, and sometimes no connection at all (e.g., the practice of female genital mutilation; or various extremist notions of martyrdom). What they share is that people desirous of retaining their group identity will cling to them regardless of their assent to a religion’s intellectual propositions; and people who want to distance themselves from that identity will abandon one or more of them even if they still hold to the religion intellectually.

    And it’s this sort of religion, not the stuff of debates, which tends to get people defensive, because a perceived attack on it is also perceived as an attack on their identity. Religion, in either sense, is certainly not the same as such unchangeable things as race or sexual orientation — it’s certainly more mutable — but to those who have come to identify themselves primarily in terms of a religious group, the distinction may be difficult to understand. We should not assume that abandoning or rejecting a religious identity is as easy as putting on a new pair of boots.

    Now, the distinction between these two things labelled “religion” is not often made, neither in the UK nor in France nor in majority-Muslim countries. Nonetheless, discussion of how to treat religion is hampered because we see people sliding back and forth between “religion as an intellectual construct” and “religion as a social identity,” and, not surprisingly, getting entirely different answers based on how they choose to view it. If we can make the distinction, we may come closer to getting some useful answers.

  • @Meral Hussein Ece
    “The growing level of Islamophobia and hate crimes in the UK, and Europe is frightening. We saw the Dresden far right demonstrations last week. There has been a large number of attacks on mosques in France in the aftermath of the terrible events in Paris. Unpleasant tabloid headlines here in the UK…”

    I can’t help feeling that this grim analysis is similar to what the Islamophobes say, only in reverse.

    By which I mean: only a small minority of Muslims are dangerous extremists, but the Islamophobes wish to give the impression that such people are rife.

    Similarly, I believe the vast majority of people within Britain and elsewhere in Europe are welcoming to Muslims, but you paint a picture here which suggests that anti-Muslim prejudice is widespread. I think we need to be more realistic from both perspectives. The vast majority of people, Muslim and non-Muslim, just want to live in peace with their neighbours.

  • Helen Dudden 10th Jan '15 - 8:47pm

    The subject of religion is very personal to most of us. If you live a certain life style, and it is except-able in the true meaning of law and order, what is the problem?

    I have no comments on anything political, but I do comment on the rights of others. I must admit the events in Paris felt so sad for all those concerned, a terrible loss of life.

    Unless, this is resolved in a practical fashion and antisemitic comments taken, as something that is very unpleasant as with the ill treatment of Jews, we do not move forward.

    I feel we should be looking into how we resolve the situation for the future.

    One well known Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller wrote, First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out….

    It carries on and we know the end of the end of the quote.

    I feel we are going to move into areas where there is retaliation to the innocent, whoever. Europe needs to change, it was put in place to end wars.

  • Helen Tedcastle 10th Jan '15 - 8:50pm

    David-1

    I read your comments with great interest. However, my point was that although there is the fundamental right to free expression, it is incumbent upon us as liberals to be mindful of those voices in the media who call on those who do not like such cartoons being republished in the UK press, to leave the county.

    It strikes me that this is not a proportionate or even liberal response. Rather it is divisive and intolerant of those who might just be a little offended at another republishing of a cartoons as an ostensible ‘act of solidarity’ but in fact comes across as deliberate goading.

    I am not disputing at all the right of Charlie Hebdo or other publications like Viz ( in the past) to publish offensive material I do not like.

    I am concerned about some self-styled ‘liberal’ journalists going on national TV calling for people from faith communities (particularly the muslim) to leave the country for not going along with a reprint of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in the press in Britain.

    It strikes me that our press has shown responsible journalism in not doing so at this time of heightened emotions across Europe after a terrorist atrocity.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Jan '15 - 9:02pm

    @Stuart Of course the vast majority of people from all backgrounds live side by side in peace and show great tolerance and respect to other cultures, especially in London – the most cosmopolitan city in the world. But figures show there has been an increase in Islamophobia, and hate crimes. But compared with other European countries, we have a better record in terms of race relations. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/28/women-targeted-attacks-muslims?CMP=twt_gu

  • Jayne Mansfield 10th Jan '15 - 10:40pm

    I agree with Nick.

  • I do think that both Stuart’s and David’s comments are worth much consideration about all.

  • Stevan Rose 11th Jan '15 - 1:43am

    “I am concerned about some self-styled ‘liberal’ journalists going on national TV calling for people from faith communities (particularly the muslim) to leave the country for not going along with a reprint of Charlie Hebdo cartoons in the press in Britain.”

    Does this not depend on context? I watched “moderate Muslims” on TV condemning the killings in France but calling for criminalisation of offensive actions against Islam such as reprinting the cartoons. Those that oppose such basic freedoms as the right to be disrespectful towards religion must either live with the fact that this is a liberal democracy where such freedoms are not up for debate, or they may find it more comfortable to reside in a country where their views are in the majority. I am not sure I would want to stay in a country that would make me a criminal for being critical of Islam.

  • @Meral
    I agree, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that Islamophobes make up a very small proportion of non-Muslims – just as it has become pretty much obligatory when discussing Islamic extremism to point out that extremists are only a tiny proportion of Muslims. It’s important to point both these things out for the same reason i.e. to preserve good relations between communities.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Jan '15 - 10:35am

    In that case who are those with the anti Semitic comments?

    Support in France for the Jews who lost their lives, my sincere condolences to all the families who have suffered over the few days.

  • Helen Tedcastle 11th Jan '15 - 12:08pm

    Stevan Rose
    ‘ Those that oppose such basic freedoms as the right to be disrespectful towards religion must either live with the fact that this is a liberal democracy where such freedoms are not up for debate, or they may find it more comfortable to reside in a country where their views are in the majority.’

    The muslim community in France and the UK have come out and condemned the terrorist atrocities unequivocally. In a liberal democracy there will be people who are offended by images of many kinds in the press. That does not mean that I need to call for them to leave the country.

    What kind of message does it send to the muslim community or any other minority religious group that so-called ‘tolerant’ metropolitan liberals suggest they leave the country, because they express their views on the impact of deliberately reprinted images? We are not talking here about the right to draw cartoons and publish magazines but deliberate re-printing and then threatening muslims that if they don’t like or accept it, they should leave.

    I believe Rupert Murdoch has come out and said that all muslims are responsible for terrorism…. so much for a liberal press.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Jan '15 - 2:19pm

    In the Jewish Press the Jews in Europe are being invited back to Israel.

  • stuart moran 11th Jan '15 - 2:24pm

    Netanyahu is a despicable man and I am not quite so sure this is being done to help anyone but him and his political agenda

  • Helen Dudden 11th Jan '15 - 2:29pm

    Should we return to Israel, bearing in mind I am a British citizen with a British passport.

  • stuart moran 11th Jan '15 - 2:33pm

    No – who suggested you should?

    I am not sure most people would be really returning seen they didn’t come from there, in any meaningful sense, in the first place.

  • Helen Dudden 11th Jan '15 - 3:58pm

    With all the problems in the EU this is being suggested. I have had things said to me because I stop doing anything on a Friday lunchtime that involves family or issues that can wait. My strange totally Kosher vegetarian food, my need to be in a shul on Shabbat and festivals.

    That’s all. I feel if the EU has any respect for Jews and human rights it should put its house in order.

  • Helen Tadcastle
    The muslim mayor of Amsterdam has said that if muslims do not like the freedoms of the Netherlands they can leave.
    When an immigrant enters a country they , like everyone else , it is a mixture of positives and negatives . If the positive out way the negative, stay, if not leave and find a country more suitable.

    What we have in France and Britain and most of Europe are countries in which religion cannot control or try to control what people think, feel, say and do. Britain , since the Lollards of the 14 Century has been reducing the power of religion.

    What is one man’s meat is another’s poison: what can offend one person is unimportant to someone else. If someone has a victim self pitying resentful mentality , then almost any criticism will be taken badly. The combination of money from the Gulf , Wahabi influence, Muslim Bretheren, Qutb and Abul Maududi has produced a rejection of the Enlightenment and the democratic progress achieved in the 20 C, particularly the increase in freedom of women. The Salaafis want to turn the clock back 1400 years !

  • Helen Dudden 12th Jan '15 - 7:51pm

    You could add the Lib Dems are not as open minded towards religion as they pretend to be. Respect for a person costs little and quite often is returned.

    Did Nick Clegg just do through the motions at Chanukah or was it well meaning?

  • Helen Dudden 13th Jan '15 - 5:42pm

    @Stuart Moran. It was suggested to me today that it is the blame of the Governments in the EU, right wing Governments, for the problems we have with the terrorists and antisemitic behavior.

    We are funding the EU with billions of pounds, and yet what is it solving?

    Netanyahu turned up, Obama did not, and with the suggestion that there is a welcome in Israel for Jews, surely that is a better option in some circumstances.

    I have lost faith in the gravy train, where tax payers money has always been questioned.

    It now seems that France is thinking differently about the issue, and of course, I welcome an improvement as will many others.

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