Ming Campbell’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings worries me

I was more than a little perturbed when I saw Ming Campbell on the BBC News Channel this morning. He was talking about yesterday’s atrocity at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

He started well enough, saying that this was not just an attack on France but on our values, Then he worried me by asking that we now need to ask ourselves how much we need to curb freedom in order to protect it, adding that the bigger the threat, the greater the precautions you need to take.

He brought it back a little by saying that you can’t protect everyone from everything, but there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Then came the killer punch: he said that we may have to consider things that would be unacceptable at other times in order to deal with the extremists.

That made me wince, to be honest. If you start restricting the liberties of a certain group of people, or if you start mucking around with the justice and fairness you afford people, the terrorists have achieved their objectives.

There is so much illiberal hyperbole going around at the moment. We need Liberal Democrats to be championing the cause of freedom and reason.

When any Liberal Democrat talks about these issues there are three things I want to hear them say:

that anything we do has to be preserve human rights and basic freedoms for everyone:

that the people who commit these atrocities do not represent Islam or the overwhelming majority of Muslims:

that we should not pander to those who wish to scapegoat a particular group of people.

We know that both Labour and Conservative parties have poor records and worse instincts when it comes to civil liberties. Liberal Democrats therefore have to be very confident and robust about making the case for freedom. It’s the right and reasonable thing to do.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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104 Comments

  • If you start restricting the liberties of a certain group of people, or if you start mucking around with the justice and fairness you afford people, the terrorists have achieved their objectives

    Really?

    I wasn’t aware that whichever group planned and executed the shootings had gone public with their manifesto (in this way they differ from other murderous groups like, say, the IRA, who did make their demands clear), so I don’t know how you thin you know what their objectives are, but it seems unlikely to me that they they were sitting around trying to brainstorm ways of making us ‘muck[…] around with the justice and fairness [we] afford people’ and thought, ‘I know! Let’s shoot up a bunhc of cartoonists!’.

    I mean, I’m not saying that ‘mucking around with the justice and fairness’ is a good idea, but to say that if we do it ‘the terrorists have achieved their objectives’ is just ridiculous.

  • I don’t quite see what ‘unacceptable’ things Mr Campbell expects to be done. Enough illiberal legislation has already been enacted in an overreaction to past terror attacks.

    And I don’t know that religious extremism is so unique, or so mysterious, that it needs to be treated like some bizarre new disease. At the end of the day, whatever cause is claimed for it, a murder is a murder. People have been killing each other for a long time, with lots of excuses: revenge for an slight, disagreements over money, jealousy over an affair, political ambition, and so on. Religious zeal is just another excuse, not essentially different from the others. But we don’t try to excise the causes: nobody’s proposing getting rid of pride or money or passion or ambition. Society just demands that they be channelled in ways that don’t cause harm to others. Government of course can and should send the message that killing and incitement to kill, in the name of religion or anything else, is wrong and will be suppressed. But it can’t go around trying to outlaw religions and ideologies, or locking people up because of what they think, or are thought to think.

  • Well. That’s just depressing. I really have no idea what the Lib Dems are *for* anymore. They’ve failed to represent for social democracy in government and now they can’t even be trusted to stand up for liberalism.

  • Tsar Nicolas 8th Jan '15 - 5:15pm

    Since the end of the Cold War, which I thought would permit a great expansion of human liberty, we have witnessed a one-way street when it comes to the ramping up of state power.

    For that reason alone, let alone the numerous instances of western states using proxies to commit violence, I think I am justified in asking whether or not this incident is what it has been made to appear.

  • And I think that your attempt to peddle your ‘false flag’ conspiracy speculation is unjustified, irrelevant, irresponsible, ridiculous, and insulting to the victims, Tsar Nicolas. You’re entitled to make up whatever stories you like in accordance with your prejudices, but please don’t expect them to be met with anything other than indifference or derision.

  • David Faggiani 8th Jan '15 - 5:27pm

    completely agree with David-1. It’s just murder, even if it’s organized murder.

  • David Evershed 8th Jan '15 - 5:33pm

    We already curb freedom when we make racial comment illegal or incitement to violence illegal.

    When do offensive remarks cross the border into racial hatred or incitement to violence . There are grey areas.

    No one should be silenced for being offensive for what they say because people can be eaily offended by opposing views – including people on this site. However, there is a point where comments could be incitement to violence which perhaps should be banned although I personnally would allow racial views to be expressed if that’s how people feel.

  • stuart moran 8th Jan '15 - 5:37pm

    It is an interesting article

    I have always thought that certain of the responses to Labour’s illiberalism post-2001 were due to the benefits of opposition, especially from the Tories

    The Tories have in general always been as illiberal as Labour, if not more so, and I cannot believe in 2001 they would have reacted any differently. Remember the pressure to be ‘seen to be doing something’ in those years after then that led to the murder (and that is how I see it) of de Menezes – I was Charlie then as well!

    There was then 7/7 and the need to react to that

    The problem being in Government is that people clamour for illiberal responses and in some ways it is the politically most expedient way to deal with it

    It is, however, sad to see Ming offering support for this approach though

  • Stephen Campbell 8th Jan '15 - 5:55pm

    @Jack: “I really have no idea what the Lib Dems are *for* anymore.”

    Well, based on their record in government, it seems the Lib Dems now stand for: tuition fees, cuts to the most vulnerable in society so we can pay off already rich people, dodgy privatisations (Royal Mail), the Bedroom Tax, secret courts and greater surveillance, NHS reform which is already proving to be a disaster, the TTIP, tax cuts for the wealthy, voting against Labour even on issues where there is agreement, and, of course, extremist Thatcherite economics.

    Which is why Ming’s comments here don’t surprise me in the slightest.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Jan '15 - 5:59pm

    My views on this will be quite predictable, but what I want to say to people is that incorporating some pragmatism from time to time, as Ming suggests, doesn’t mean becoming a centrist “pander to ignorance” party.

    We can be pragmatic and also innovative and independently minded.

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Jan '15 - 6:01pm

    @ David Evershed – “When do offensive remarks cross the border into racial hatred or incitement to violence . There are grey areas. No one should be silenced for being offensive for what they say because people can be eaily offended by opposing views – including people on this site. However, there is a point where comments could be incitement to violence which perhaps should be banned although I personnally would allow racial views to be expressed if that’s how people feel.”

    I agree, I think; for while you seem to conflate the two at the beginning, you do in the end draw a useful distinction between inciting violence and inciting ‘x’ brand of hatred.

    One is both more extreme and more definite than the other.

  • Im digusted that any Politian should say we should change our ways our life’s our freedoms for outsiders ITS the other way round you come into our country you have to adapt to our ways NOT other way round. That’s the Political class going back 50 years sell its own people out.

  • David Cooper 8th Jan '15 - 7:29pm

    @When any Liberal Democrat talks about these issues …I want to hear them say that the people who commit these atrocities do not represent Islam

    I find your proposed “party line” on Islamic terrorism profoundly illiberal. The liberal approach is consider the facts. I reject your demand for a pre-ordained starting point.

    The facts are not in your favor. The Koran is overflowing with hatred for unbelievers, and the murderers at Charlie Hebdo were a legitimate interpretation of Islam, if not necessarily the only one.
    Specifically, the Koran teaches that unbelievers are viler than the lowest vermin, see :
    (8:55) “Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe”.

    The Koran appear to teach that Muslims have a duty to fight unbelievers who contend against the rule of Allah:-
    (8:12-13) Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” This because they contended against Allah and His Messenger: If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.

    While you may respond that this is an incorrect reading of the Koran, the facts are that the Jihadists read it that way. There is no reason to doubt that they came to their conclusions in good faith and after careful study. They represent one, very evil, aspect of Islam.

  • Meral Hussein-Ece 8th Jan '15 - 7:49pm

    I thought I’d stumbled across the EDL, or England Firsts ‘voice’ after reading the comment by David Cooper.
    I suggest he looks to the Bible for similar interpretation, and verse. I along with very many others from a Muslim background, am fed up and deeply resent being asked to condemn the action of a few extreme murderers . 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide are not responsible for the Paris attacks, or any other attack, and we are fed up with this ritual. It’s bigoted and it’s Islamophobic. It’s in effect asking for a form of apology – unless we denounce these appalling incidents, the implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism by association. I condemn these attacks and atrocities because I am a human being and deplore all attacks on innocent civilians.

  • Helen Tedcastle 8th Jan '15 - 7:59pm

    David Cooper

    I’m not really sure what it proves or how it helps the debate to quote selectively from the Qur’an without any kind of context. Yes there are at least six schools of Islam and there is a spectrum of interpretation, as one would expect in a large, varied religious tradition.

    As you say, one should consider the facts. It is not factual to present selective quotations as if the Qur’an condones violent acts at all times and in every context. The fact is that the terrorists appear to be loosely affiliated to a violent political ideology linked to a version of wahabi Islam perpetrated by Bin Laden.

    Interestingly, millions of other Wahabis in the Gulf states, Saudi and elsewhere are perfectly peace-loving people, living peaceful and non-violent lives (even if you do not like their conservatism) which rather shows that the violence resides in the actions of a very tiny number of ultra-fanatics (the leaders of whom got rich on oil).

  • stuart moran 8th Jan '15 - 8:11pm

    David Cooper

    I am much a non-believer as can be without being antitheist but even I find your post too much

    I think those who interpret words in ancient scripts as being a support to violence have a tendency to that end anyway and it is just an excuse. Many more in all religions are able to filter out any calls for violence and focus on the spiritual side and so I do not think it is fair to tar all religious people with the brush of fundamentalism and violence

    I personally find the use of such texts and belief in a deity difficult to understand but that is my view and I accept that it will be challenged and satirised as much as those who believe – I only want to make sure that neither of us is persecuted or discriminated against for what we think – anywhere!

  • Tsar Nicolas 8th Jan '15 - 8:14pm

    I cannot agree with Meral’s attack on David Cooper. Rather than deriding hims as expressing views akin to the EDL or similar groups, maybe there should be an effort at convincing us that texts from the Koran don’t mean what they appear to mean.

    There clearly is a problem with expression that offends certain Muslims otherwise we would not have had the controversy about the Mohammed cartoons in the first place. Can anyone imagine what the reaction would be if there were ever to be an Islamic version of ‘the Life of Brian?’

    Having said that, I feel deeply uncomfortable about engaging in this debate because from a few hours after the news broke, I have had deep doubts about whether this atrocity was actually an Islamist attack as opposed to some sort of state-sponsored event. And it puzzles me as to why the party of Lord Acton can find such a proposition so absolutely unimaginable.

  • paul barker 8th Jan '15 - 8:21pm

    In the days of The IRA you could reasonably accuse Members & Supporters of bearing some responsibility for IRA attacks. In this case theres no organisation, no newspapers, no candidates to vote for, no one openly collecting money. The only people who can be held responsible for the Paris attacks are the men who carried them out, anyone who can be proved to have helped them & anyone who openly supports them.
    The biggest single mistake any British Government ever made in response to Terrorism was the introduction of Internment without Trial, that recruited thousands to The IRA banner & Northern Ireland is still paying the price. One thing any Terrorist group wants to do is get everyone to divide into “Us & Them”, lets not help them to do that.

  • David Cooper 8th Jan '15 - 8:46pm

    @Meral Hussein-Ece
    I find it offensive to be equated to the EDL. Distrust of the teachings and motivations of religion is a long liberal tradition. There is no obligation on liberals to start discussions from a position of trusting Islam, and every reason they should not.

    @stuart moran
    I do not tar all Muslims with the “brush of fundamentalism and violence”. Most Muslims are decent people, and rise above the hate filled teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. However, I do consider the Koran to be deeply totalitarian and intolerant, and this does influence some of its adherents.

  • It’s somewhat ironic that David Cooper’s post is condemned as offensive when most of it is actually quotes from the Koran.

    Meral makes the common mistake of confusing criticism of Islam with criticism of Muslims.

    @Helen
    “I’m not really sure what it proves or how it helps the debate to quote selectively from the Qur’an without any kind of context.”

    What it proves is that the Koran, at best, is deeply ambiguous. Those who go to it looking for a message of peace of love will be able to find it. Those who go to it looking for a paean to violence and murder will be able to find that too. That being the case, it seems pretty indisputable that the Koran presents humanity with a problem, and it shouldn’t really be that controversial to point this out.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jan '15 - 8:55pm

    Meral Hussein-Ece

    I along with very many others from a Muslim background, am fed up and deeply resent being asked to condemn the action of a few extreme murderers . 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide are not responsible for the Paris attacks, or any other attack, and we are fed up with this ritual.

    Horrible things are being done in the name of your religion, and say you don’t care, you aren’t bothered by it?

    I know that if horrible things were done in the name of my religion, I’d be angry, angry, angry. I wouldn’t wait for someone else to call on me to denounce them. I’d want to be out there shouting out in anger at the offence it would have caused me for my religion to be so abused by people doing these things and saying they were in the name of my religion.

    People can draw their own conclusions from your very different reaction to this sort of thing.

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Jan '15 - 8:57pm

    maybe it should be subject to the laws on inciting religious hatred…?

    i jest of course, as an indifferent agnostic that believes in free expression, i have no interest in banning ideas, regardless from whence they they derive. book, person, or otherwise.

  • @David Cooper
    “Distrust of the teachings and motivations of religion is a long liberal tradition.”

    Hear hear. If yesterday’s atrocity demonstrates one thing, it is that criticism (and even vilification) of religion is not just something that we should tolerate in a liberal society – rather it is something that is absolutely essential for any society to be truly liberal.

    Of course this is accepted by just about everybody when it comes to Christianity – witness the numerous posts on LDV last year attacking the beliefs of some of those who opposed equal marriage. But for some reason, many Liberals take a much more dim view of those who attack Islam. The reason appears to be that criticising Islam is seen as tantamount to attacking ethnic minorities. Hence a certain type of Liberal feels obliged to defend the grossly illiberal at times. I find this grimly fascinating. It’s like watching one of those computers in an old black and white episode of Doctor Who emitting smoke and sparks because it cannot compute two completely contradictory ideas.

  • Meral has condemned the attack as a human being. That is quite enough, and is something we should all share in.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 8th Jan '15 - 9:34pm

    @Matthew Huntbach Please show me where I say ‘ I don’t care, or I’m not bothered?’ Any decent human being does care when innocent people are killed, and I’ve been hugely affected by this. I didn’t see any demands of Christians to condemn the actions of Timothy McVeigh in the US or Anders Breivik, who at his trial described himself as a ‘militant Christian’ But perhaos you did?
    I don’t have to defend the religion I was born into to anyone. The Paris terrorists certainly don’t represent 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. For the record, more Muslims are being killed by Islamist extremists, and they’re also in the front line fighting extremists like ISIS.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 8th Jan '15 - 9:42pm

    A final thought. In France a woman wearing a veil in public is committing a criminal offence. How is this liberal or a freedom of expression?

  • Merel Hussien-Ece
    I don’t think asking Muslims to apologise for these crimes is reasonable either, but I do think questioning religion and religious texts is fair enough. I’ve read translations of the Koran, but I wouldn’t quote bits of it prove this that or the other. My belief is that breakdown of religion is generally a good thing. The reformation, the enlightenment and all that.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jan '15 - 9:58pm

    There are two issues here.

    The number of people killed by terrorists is relatively small in comparison to all sorts of commonly-accepted risks in our modern society. Although for the individuals involved and their friends and family each such death is horrendous, the principal effect on our society of such events is the disproportionate fear and potential for panic. The question arises, therefore, as to what can be done to reduce the potential for fear and panic. Whether or not this state of affairs is sought by those responsible for it, there is a real question as to whether enhanced ‘security measures’, perhaps of dubious provenance re efficacy, actually make us feel any more safe or whether thy remind us perpetually of the threat in addition to any restrictions on liberty they may bring in.

    The second issue relates to whether or not our society will actually give in to the blackmail which I would suggest is the real reason for these outrages. To this case, I would point out one vital exception to any acceptance of a general doctrine of multi-culturalism. The one aspect of our own ‘common’ culture in this country upon which we cannot compromise is our refusal to accept any imposition of an acceptance of intolerance. While there is no reason at all why anyone should wantonly convey views which upset others, either individual or groups, there is also no reason at all why society as a whole should allow any individual or group who has been upset in such a manner to place themselves as judge and jury and executioner in their own cause. And if there is not a general convergence upon consensus values in these areas then there is likely to eventually be serious schism.

  • Eddie Sammon 8th Jan '15 - 9:59pm

    I am loathe to comment more on this, but we need to strive for religious equality and not be harassing any regular muslims about their views.

    Readers know I am no trumpet for the left, but I see people increasingly single out Islam and it would be a very sad state of affairs if those people got their wish and we had Christians, Atheists and Jews living in one section of the world and Muslims in another. This is also what the extremists want and it is an intolerant vision for the world.

    Best regards

  • jedibeeftrix 8th Jan '15 - 10:03pm

    it isn’t, and i would not support it here, but that smacks of whataboutery.

  • Meral, I thought we spoke of freedom of speech not expression if some people find a veil causes fear anxiety should the wearer not consider this also

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jan '15 - 10:06pm

    @David Cooper:

    ” the facts are that the Jihadists read it that way. There is no reason to doubt that they came to their conclusions in good faith and after careful study. They represent one, very evil, aspect of Islam.”

    Is not the old Testament full of all sorts of ‘smiting’ and illiberality? Is not Jesus Christ with his ‘turn the other cheek’ and doctrine of love and forgiveness, considered to be an important prophet by the Muslim religion?

    Literalism, especially when based upon texts written in a time of archaic social behaviour by men who claim them to have come from God/Allah is a dangerous doctrine which should worry Liberals wherever it comes from.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Jan '15 - 10:11pm

    @Meral Hussein Ec

    “A final thought. In France a woman wearing a veil in public is committing a criminal offence.”

    And yet it is not here. Would we extradite?

    In the UK, it is considered to be criminal behaviour to simply walk naked down the street without betraying any sexual expression.

    One’s conclusion is that even our relatively ‘liberal’ societies determine an element of conformity in public spaces for various reasons. The reasons for such rule should always be questioned by liberals but not, perhaps, always overturned?

  • David Cooper 8th Jan '15 - 10:35pm

    @Meral Hussein Ece

    Banning the veil is nothing to do with freedom of speech. Do not confuse freedom of ideas with unlimited self expression.
    All societies ban offensive and indecent attire. In the UK, nudity and wearing paramilitary uniforms is banned, despite the wishes of naturists and Fascists. I find the full Islamic veil utterly obscene and offensive, however good it makes the wearer feel. I would support any law to ban it in the UK.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jan '15 - 10:43pm

    Meral Hussein Ece

    I didn’t see any demands of Christians to condemn the actions of Timothy McVeigh in the US or Anders Breivik, who at his trial described himself as a ‘militant Christian’ But perhaos you did?

    I myself went out of my way to condemn the IRA and their mouthpiece, Sinn Fein, when they were active as terrorists. I felt I had a moral duty to do so because they were seen as “Catholics” even though they never mentioned religion in their justification for their acts, let alone claimed they were doing it the name of that religion. Still, most of them practised it. I was heavily involved in the usenet discussion group soc.culture.irish, which had many naive Americans contributing towards it, and often condemned as a “British imperialist and once “Who need Paisley when we have Huntbach?” for doing so. My belief is that anyone who supported the IRA is guilty of what in Catholic terminology is called “mortal sin”, and I by “support” I include voting for its political mouthpiece.

    I am very happy to condemn “Bibliolatrists”, that is those who worship the Bible by supposing Christianity is about picking verses out of it at random, when in fact the New Testament explicitly argues against that form of religion. I am not offended at all when you ask me to condemn those isolated individuals you mention.

    I believe that anyone who has an affinity to a religion has a moral duty to work against those who abuse that religion, and to speak out against such abuse. I would regard myself as an utter hypocrite if I went on about being offended when some mild criticism or silly comment was made about my religion, but I was silent when people elsewhere did far worse things in the name of that religion.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Jan '15 - 11:11pm

    Some of the comments that have been made towards Meral Ece make me furious. I think we can all take it as read that every right thinking human being condemns the atrocity. To expect someone, because they subscribe to a particular religion, to specifically condemn each atrocity committed by one of the other millions of followers of that faith shows an unacceptable level of prejudice against those people. It does sound like the sort of rhetoric we expect to hear from Farage.

    David Cooper would do well to remember that there are many objectionable quotes from the Bible. I do believe Paul advised the early church’s husband to beat their wives and in the Old Testament there were incitements to rape and murder and much smiting.

    Meral mentions the banning of the hijab in France which, although I advocate a liberal, secular society, I believe was a huge mistake. We have to stop these Tories who want to bring it in in this country. I object to women being told what to wear – whoever is telling them. Such a ban is disrespectful and counter-productive.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Jan '15 - 11:12pm

    Allan, there is no reason why someone wearing a veil should cause anyone anxiety. That says more about the person feeling the anxiety than anything else.

  • Tsar Nicolas 8th Jan '15 - 11:26pm

    It’s curious that Timothy McVeigh should be brought up in the conversation, because I doubt anyone really knows for sure what happened in Oklahoma City on April 19 1995.

    I was listening to a radio show recently, which featured Salt Lake City lawyer Jesse Trentadue, whose brother Kenneth was arrested shortly after the bombing, and was then found hanged in FBI custody. It seems that kenneth may have been mistaken for ‘John Doe Number 2,’ the person who was accompanied McVeigh in the truck ride to the Albert C Murraugh Building.

    John Doe Number 2 was probably Richard Lee Guthrie, who was also found dead in FBI custody.

    Jesse Trentadue is currently carrying on a legal case against the Federal authorities to find out what happened to his brother – yes, twenty years later, and there is till much that is unknown , from the fate of videotapes that would have shown who got out of the truck with McVeigh to the role of German intelligence operative Andrei Strassmeyer.

    My point is that we still don’t know for definite what happened in OKC in 1995, and yet everybody is posting here as if they knew what happened in Paris yesterday.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Jan '15 - 11:26pm

    Meral Ece

    The Paris terrorists certainly don’t represent 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide

    The Paris terrorists were doing what is done legally by the state in one of the biggest Muslim-dominated countries in the world with the Pakistan blasphemy laws. This is NOT just a natter of one or two madcaps.

    Across the Muslim world there has been this huge growth in recent years of an illiberal and intolerant interpretation of Islam. I am most definitely NOT saying that Islam has to be like that. But I am suggesting a contributing factor is the way too many Muslims who say they are not like that nevertheless seem to be far more motivated by supposed slights to Islam than they are to help build a better and more true version of Islam by actively standing up against the intolerant and illiberal version.

    The fact that some who have a loyalty to your religion turn to do these things IS an issue. It is not enough for those who say they aren’t like that just to say “Oh, nothing to do with us” and then expect others to jump to their defence. Just as it would not have been enough for the Catholic Church to say of child abusers in its ranks “Oh, that’s not what our religion is about, so it’s nothing to do with us, so we’re going to do nothing about it except make a fuss about anti-Catholic prejudice should anyone say bad things about us because of it”.

  • Some sentences from the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution.
    There are obvious echoes of the spirit of the French Revolution and the enlightened, secular republic that is France.
    This is no accident.

    The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. ….

    We look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, in which they live together in peace and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely…..

    Upholding these values of individual and social justice, we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour,religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality…..

    We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely, and we will protect the right of citizens to enjoy privacy in their own lives and homes. 

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 12:14am

    Caron Lindsay

    Some of the comments that have been made towards Meral Ece make me furious.

    I am made furious by the attitude of denial that there is a problem. I am not expecting Meral Ece to jump up and down in protest at every atrocity done in the name of Islam. I would, however, like her and other influential Muslims who have a more liberal attitude to accept there is a problem of growing intolerance and extremism within Islam worldwide, and that ONLY THEY can do something about it.

    I feel so badly about the misinterpretation of Islam that leads to these things that sometime I wish I were a Muslim so that I myself could then speak out against it. But I am not a Muslim. I respect the faith and its insights and its contributions and the way that it had a tolerance that was lacking in Christianity in the past (hence the existence of those minority non-Muslim communities in the Middle East, but I cannot accept that the Quran is the dictated word of God.

    It seems to me, Caron, that you are saying that Islam, unlike my religion, is beyond criticism – people can be free to be as rude and as critical as they like about my religion, how it is organised, its adherents, and so on, but do similar to Islam, and oh no, it means you’re a horrible prejudiced person. It seems to me that this constant pushing of that line is helping build up the persecution mentality in Islam, and helping support the supine attitude of those who might not agree with the horrible things some do in its name but don’t do enough to actively challenge it.

  • Julian Gibb 9th Jan '15 - 12:30am

    You only heard what the rest of us have been aware of for many years. Ming is a fully paid up member of the establishment and would love to curtail our freedom..

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 12:36am

    Caron Lindsay

    I do believe Paul advised the early church’s husband to beat their wives and in the Old Testament there were incitements to rape and murder and much smiting.

    You are perhaps referring to the words in Ephesians or Colossians. Neither of these mention “beating”, and there is not any other quote about husbands and wives like these in the letters of Paul.

    Regarding the Old Testament, as I have already suggested, the idea that Christianity takes the Bible as an undivided whole and is based on that is wrong. The Old Testament is there as the contextual background to the New Testament, but much of the New Testament consists of a critical attitude towards what is in the Old Testament. In the Catholic mass, the reading from the Gospels, the part of the New Testament which is about the life of Jesus, is done with much more ceremony than the readings from the Old Testament and from the letters of Paul, indicating that it is not just a matter of picking out bits of all of them and giving them equal priority.

    In fact, I could say I am insulted by your incorrect description of my religion, and say “How dare you criticise it, when it is obvious from what you wrote that you have no real knowledge of it, apart from an incorrect one which shows your own prejudice”. However, as a liberal, I welcome free speech, and so also this opportunity to correct your lack of knowledge on these matters.

  • No, Tsar Nicolas, we don’t know exactly what happened in Paris the other day, which is what makes your speculations and insinuations so obnoxious. Before there is the slightest shred of evidence for you to base your opinion on, you have jumped to the conclusion, apparently, that the French Government — or maybe the British or American Governments — have ordered a hit on a group of journalists that posed them no threat whatsoever, and have been relentlessly trying to spread this ridiculous, not to say libellous meme everywhere you can.
    As for the rest, you can find more than enough conspiracy theories “on the radio” or on the internet or in the junk book sections of jumble sales, if that’s what you’re intent on finding. What’s not clear, however, is why you think anybody with normal intelligence would be interested in them.

  • Matthew, I think Caron is making a different point than the one you imagine. Namely, she’s demonstrating that if you randomly open the books of any religion and start reading, you are likely to come across things that — due to lack of understanding of the historical and cultural context, the writing style of the author, or the interpretive network in which the text is situated — appear strange, bizarre, and often offensive. Whether they actually are (they might be, they might not be) is not something about which one can or should make up one’s mind simply by assuming the first meaning that comes to mind. Understanding both what a text means in its own literary and historical context, and what it means in the context of centuries of interpretation and use by scholars (which is not necessarily the same thing) requires study; more study, perhaps, than most people are willing to give, especially when glib analyses are easily available.

    Neither the Bible nor the Qur’ân means any one thing. Various meanings have been deduced from these texts at different times by different schools of thought. Anglicans do not read the Bible as Catholics do, and both read it differently to Quakers. Shi’as do not agree with Sunnis or with Zaidis on the reading of the Qur’ân, Ithna-‘Ashariyyas do not agree with Isma’ilis, Malikis and Shafi’is do not agree with Hanbalis or Wahhabis. In all religions, it would seem, there are also traditionalist, neo-traditionalist, and liberal or modernist tendencies. People who try to treat any religion as if it were a single mass of unified, unquestioning belief, can only misunderstand it; and trying to deal with religion-related activities on the basis of these misunderstandings can only end in confusion and poor decisions.

  • Tsar Nicolas 9th Jan '15 - 1:11am

    David-1

    ‘Before there is the slightest shred of evidence.”

    Interesting use of language, especially since I started by merely asking a question, and you haven’t refuted anything, just insulted me.

    But let’s have a bit of political context. Over Christmas, President Hollande called for the easing of sanctions on Russia. On Monday he gave a lengthy radio interview in which he not only repeated this, drawing attention to the his wish to deliver the Mistral warships to Moscow, but went further, by saying that Putin had assured him that he had no interest in annexing eastern Ukraine, and implied that (Hollande) believed him.

    Hollande also said that there was going to be a meeting in Kazhakstan later this month between Putin and Poroshenko, which would be attended by others, including Merkel, but that he (Hollande) would only attend if there was the prospect of some sort fo progress. Other items in that interview also included a statement to the effect that France would not intervene in Libya to stem the deteriorating military situation and, he also undermined the German/ECB/ IMF narrative on Greece which is to say that voting for Syriza in January 25th will mean a Greek exit from the Euro (not true at all).

    This must have stuck in the throats of important people in other western capitals – how dare France re-assert its own sovereignty and self-interest? To see the atrocity that was subsequently carried out as a warning shot to the French government is not unduly fanciful.

    I did not actually blame the French government if you look at what I have posted, and my speculations on this post have largely been to the contrary. However, it is worth pointing out that in 2012, during the dying days of Sarkozy’s presidency, a number of killings in France were blamed on a Muslim man called – if I remember correctly – Mohammed Marrah – who turned out to have been a paid informer and agent of the French equivalent of the FBI.

    I am sorry that you think I am being obnoxiously speculative, but if you truly think that, then please come up with some actual argument. Until this post I have refrained from speculation, merely posted factual material on actual events, such as operation Gladio, operation Northwoods and so on. You haven’t dealt with that material, merely insulted me.

  • We need to really, intellectually, understand what is unfolding before our eyes. By not truly – and I mean truly – confronting it , with all the resources we have, I fear the roots can only grow deeper.

  • Tsar Nicolas: Not only are your contentions “unduly fanciful,” they are totally incoherent. I hope no one else will waste as many undeserved words on you as I have, and that instead we can discuss, not a tissue of fictions, but real and salient issues that arise from the recent shocking and tragic events.

  • Tsar Nicolas 9th Jan '15 - 7:15am

    David-1

    I posted a link on one of the other threads to a BBC documentary on Operation Gladio, which was a NATO-inspired series of outrages in Italy and other countries during the 1946-90 period.

    Please refute that – this atrocity seems eerily similar to many of the acts of terrorism carried out during that period of time.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 9th Jan '15 - 9:47am

    @Caron – thank you for pointing out the intolerance shown towards some who offer a different point of view on Lib Dem Voice.
    While we’re about supporting the right to offend, I came across this article where Charlie Hebdo magazine sacked a staff member for comments he made about Sarkozys son. Is this freedom of speech?
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/4351672/French-cartoonist-Sine-on-trial-on-charges-of-anti-Semitism-over-Sarkozy-jibe.html

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 10:13am

    Meral Hussein Ece

    @Caron – thank you for pointing out the intolerance shown towards some who offer a different point of view on Lib Dem Voice.

    What intolerance? You and Caron are showing an intolerance to me by the way you refuse to allow me to say “I think the over-defensiveness of liberal Muslims feeds into a persecution complex which helps foster over-aggressive attitudes in less liberal Muslims”. You refuse to allow me to say this by the way you misrepresent what I am saying and accuse me of saying it out of prejudice when actually it is something I say out of reflection of my own experiences in combatting extremist and illiberal streams in my own religion.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 10:29am

    David-1

    Matthew, I think Caron is making a different point than the one you imagine. Namely, she’s demonstrating that if you randomly open the books of any religion and start reading, you are likely to come across things that

    No, I think she is showing a common misunderstanding of Christianity in supposing that it means “Take the Bible, and devise a religion from it”. It is part of my fight against those who call themselves “Christian” but have what I would regard as nasty attitudes against what Christianity must be about, that I reject this supposition, and point out that it is wrong, ahistorical and actually rejected in the critical part of the Bible itself, when this supposition is put even by those who are doing it naively rather than because they believe in that mistaken form of Christianity.

    It might make it nice and neat to suppose that the role of the Bible in Christianity and the role of the Quran in Islam is the same, but they are not. Islam does see the Quran as one undivideable work where all parts have equal weight, and which was directly handed down in that form to one person. As I said, that is not the position of the Bible in Christianity. The idea that it is was invented by some in the 16th century. I was very insulting (but you are all too lacking in knowledge to see that) when I described them as “Bibliolatrists”. I could have been more polite and called them “Protestants”.

  • Allum Bokhari 9th Jan '15 - 10:35am

    Matthew,

    You’re certainly allowed to say it! No-one has moderated your comments, and nor should they have done. Misrepresentation is another matter, but it’s not the same as disallowing something. Equally, I don’t think disagreeing with Meral amounts to intolerance, even if many people are doing so.

  • David Evans 9th Jan '15 - 10:59am

    Caron, perhaps there is no reason, that you can see, why someone wearing a veil should cause anyone anxiety. However, liberals should always consider those who they do not understand to be of equal importance to those they believe they do understand.

  • Shaun Whitfield 9th Jan '15 - 11:29am

    As an atheist, I find these interminable discussions about interpretations of the koran and the bible hilarious. If adherents of either regard their contents as the word of god, why couldn’t (s)he have expressed herself more clearly, to remove any ambiguities? Perhaps it’s because probably neither are the word of god, but just stuff made up by men at the time. In my opinion, the history of organised religion can be summed up in three words: Men Behaving Badly.

    While I respect the right of adults to follow a particular religion, please don’t ask me to respect the religion itself, which to me is just an exercise in madeupology, even though you can get degrees in it at university.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 9th Jan '15 - 11:46am

    @ Matthew Huntbach. I will challenge sexism, racism and homophobia wherever I find it. I’ve done it when I’ve found it variously within the Liberal Democrats, Islam, the Catholic Church, the pages of the Sun. What I won’t do is, as it seems to me as you are doing, is to attack a whole group of people for the actions of a few who have little in common with them.

    And you are hardly being denied a voice, even though I think your attitude and comments towards Meral are pushing the boundaries. Meral, like me, will always challenge the injustices she sees. I think as a Muslim she has an insight that I don’t have and I think it is important to listen to her. That doesn’t mean I always agree with her – we don’t on the je suis Charlie thing, for example, although we are not in reality that far apart in what we think.

    We need to take a wider look at the sort of things which add fuel to the extremist cause and do something about them. They are more to do with oppression and discrimination than much else.

  • Helen Tedcastle 9th Jan '15 - 12:03pm

    @ Matthew Huntbach

    I agree with much of what you are arguing, especially about the treatment of Christianity on LDV. Thanks for pointing out the mistake in Caron’s analysis of St. Paul. It amazes me how so many think that Christians derive principles for living by simply selecting random quotes from the Bible as if all Christians are members of those small groups of radical protestants within Christianity (mainly residing the States) who live by this literalist behaviour.

    However, I think Meral has the perfect right to defend Islam but condemn the terrorists on here, seeing as the violent terrorists have no right to call themselves Muslim. Many muslim leaders around the world have in fact condemned the attacks as not in their name.

    Shaun Whitfield

    You and I have had discussions on here before about faith, so I am sure your views as a member of the ‘wholly neutral in these matters’ national secular society are entirely dispassionate 😉

  • Matthew Huntbach

    Thank you. I have learned a new word.
    For those who like me do not regularly come across “Bibliolatrists” here is a helpful link —
    http://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/bibliolater#English

    I hope you will not be offended but I got a bit lost in your last comment.
    Especially the bit —
    “….. It is part of my fight against those who call themselves “Christian” but have what I would regard as nasty attitudes against what Christianity must be about, that I reject this supposition, and point out that it is wrong, ahistorical and actually rejected in the critical part of the Bible itself, when this supposition is put even by those who are doing it naively rather than because they believe in that mistaken form of Christianity.”

    I should probably apologise but my knowledge of all varieties of Christianity is limited.

    It was probably not helped by attending a church school and having what in those days was called “Religious Instruction” for at least 40 minutes per day over and above the common act of worship.

    Whilst this has helped me answer obscure questions on the Bible in University Challenge, I struggle to think what else it did other than inoculate me against Christianity in general and the Anglicans in particular who made us recite sections from the Book of Common Prayer with the reference to being me being a Catholic, which the rest of the time they told me were the other lot.

    It took me many years to realise that members of the Church of England seem to believe in almost anything and everything. On the Andrew Marr programme recently the Archbishop of York confirmed this and explained how the CofE was both in favour of women bishops and against women bishops. He said that was the real strength of the CofE.

    But he has a well publicised belief that if he refuses to wear his dog collar this will impact on the politics of Zimbabwe — a belief which overthe years seems not to be shared by President Mugabe.

    The Archbishop of York is quite senior in the CofE as well as having a reserved place in our Parliament — so I suppose I should listen to what he says. I do listen to CofE people frequently because the BBC regularly features them without warning on Radio 4. The more I listen the more I understand why for every member of the CofE who attends church in the UK in 2015 there are three people going to their local mosque in the UK. This is an interesting comparison that is seldom mentioned in polite society.

    It would appear that nobody wants to admit that there are millions of Brits who follow Islam and go to the mosque but only 800,000 who go to the official state sponsored church.

    Which brings me to Ming Campbell who comes from a country where the CofE is not the state sponsored official church. I know even less about Presbyterians than I do about the CofE but have always enjoyed Billy Connolly’s jokes. By now, most ordinary people who watched Ming on the BBC News Channel as Caron did will have forgotten what he said. Some may remember the jokes of Billy Connolly or some may remember the bizarre statements of the Archbishop of York but most will have forgotten.

    There really is no problem if Ming believes as I do that — ” We will at all times defend the right to speak, write, worship, associate and vote freely ” which is a key sentence in the Preamble to our Constitution.

    If Ming does not believe that well it still does not really matter; the fact is that he is someone who eight years ago was forced out of the leadership of the party for being far too old. In a few weeks time he will no longer be an MP. Those of us who are in the Liberal Democrats will remember that he did some good stuff, and some of us will regret that he was plotted against and turfed out by younger MPs who had ambitions, egos and agendas of their own. But all things must pass as that famous Hindu George Harrison said.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 12:54pm

    Caron Lindsay

    What I won’t do is, as it seems to me as you are doing, is to attack a whole group of people for the actions of a few who have little in common with them.

    This is why I feel that in effect I am NOT being allowed to say what I want to say, because it results in very serious, damaging, and entirely untrue response like this.

    Of course Meral has a right to defend her religion, and I certainly do not think that she or the vast majority of the 1.6 billion people she mentions have any sympathy or would wish to give any support to those who murdered the Charlie Hebdo staff and the police staff who were with them.

    However, my concern is with the kneejerk “nothing to do with us” response. Sorry, I think that’s a cop-out, and I think this whole “poor little us” attitude is part of the problem that at the fringes leads to nastiness. If people are so mis-interpreting Islam in this way, and I very much DO agree it is a misinterpretation, then I think the question needs to be asked “Why?” and “What should be done about it?” and “Who should be doing it?”. Well, I don’t think those of us who are not Muslims are in the position to do whatever it is that needs doing.

    Worldwide, Islam is NOT “poor little us”. In many parts of the world it is the dominant religion, and sorry to say, in those parts of the world it tends not to act in the tolerant way which those who adhere to it elsewhere expect it to be treated there. I am most certainly NOT saying the intolerance seen where it is the majority should be responded to by intolerance against it where it is not. But I am suggesting that just maybe those who enjoy that tolerance here might be a bit more forthright in doing what they can to help spread that message of tolerance to elsewhere.

    I can see myself the mistakes being made, and I can see myself so many good things that could be done within Islam that I believe would help stop this sort of misinterpretation we all condemn from growing. I can see this from my own study of how these things were overcome in Christianity. I would like to help and make suggestions, and one of them is that Meral’s first response in this thread didn’t give a good impression. But I feel yes I am effectively BANNED from doing any of this, because of the way you and others turn it round and accuse me directly of saying and believing things which are not at all the case.

    Charlie Hebdo was a puerile and rather nasty publication, making silly offensive jokes against all religion, mine as much as Islam. However, it took the position that it should not discriminate and attack only Christians because mostly Christians don’t fight back. You are taking the OPPOSITE line to this Caron, so you are a hypocrite when you say “Je suis Charlie”. You are taking the line that the sort of discussion and points I could be free to make about any other organisation and any other belief system, and often do, I cannot make against Islam or against people who call themselves Muslims, because to do so makes me a racist or someone with unacceptable prejudice or so on. I am treating Islam there in no different way than I would expect my own religion to be treated. There are valid criticisms of it, and I would not shout down people who make those criticisms in the way you are trying to shout me down by misrepresenting what I am saying.

    You Caron, are calling on me to discriminate, and like Charlie Hebdo I refuse to do this. Je suis Charlie. Tu ne pas Charlie.

  • Tsar Nicolas 9th Jan '15 - 2:08pm

    I am more on the Matthew Huntbach side of things than on the Caron Lindsay side of things, if truth be told, but I don’t think discussing a major policy and philosophical stance is what anyone should do in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event such as the Paris massacre.

    Maybe people should voluntarily refrain from posting for a 24 hour period (a thread can’t be closed down during such a free speech controversy, although I think Charlie Hebdo is more about geopolitics than free speech).

    Heck, you could use that time to consider other things – such as the notion that there is not really much evidence to suggest that group of Muslims did the deed anyway.

  • @Matthew Huntbach:
    Islam does see the Quran as one undivideable work where all parts have equal weight

    But that’s completely untrue. In fact there’s a great deal of Muslim scholarship devoted to resolving the problem of contradictions in the Qur’ân, which includes the doctrine that some revelations supersede others, or even that in some cases the Sunnah can supersede Qur’ânic declarations; and there are disagreements between Muslim scholars about which verses are superseded. Your lack of awareness of this has made you make a false generalization — which is exactly what I said happens when people rush to judge religions on the basis of their first impressions. Don’t you see that this is no different from what you are complaining about with regard to Christianity and Catholicism?

  • Shaun Whitfield 9th Jan '15 - 2:44pm

    Helen Tedcastle: “You and I have had discussions on here before about faith, so I am sure your views as a member of the ‘wholly neutral in these matters’ national secular society are entirely dispassionate ;-)”

    I don’t understand your comment. What are the scare quotes for? Where do I claim my views are dispassionate? I started my post by saying I am an atheist, so you can see where I am coming from.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 9th Jan '15 - 3:08pm

    Maybe I missed something in David Coopers first post but I cannot see anywhere that he asks or demands that all muslims must automatically condemn any and all terrorist acts carried out by those claiming to be muslims. Nor do I see any claim or inference that all muslims are terrorists or terrorist supporters.

    What I do see is a robust response to the claim in the OP that these terrorists do not represent islam. While they may not represent the vast majority of muslims and while they do not represent the majority interpretation of the koran and the Islamic faith, they do represent a version of Islamic thought.

    Just as most christians would condemn the actions and policies of the Westboro Baptist Church, they are as much christians as the most mild mannered quaker. That doesn’t mean that all christians have the same outlook, nor does it mean that all christians are obliged to apologise for their (the Westboro Church’s ) actions.

    I would suggest that these terrorists are also muslims and should be described as such. Saying that they aren’t is to ignore the fact that they themselves state that they are. They may represent a small and very violent faction of islam that is repudiated by most muslims but, they are muslims and they do represent at least one faction of islam.

  • Helen Tedcastle 9th Jan '15 - 3:16pm

    Shaun Whitfield

    Atheism comes in many varieties as does secularism. Some atheists believe that if they pepper their comments with insults towards faith and people of faith – as if it was an argument – then that is part of robust and fair debate. Others simply look at the issues and give a nuanced and balanced response from an atheist perspective.

    My reference regarding alleged neutrality was to the NSS, which has come up in our previous discussions.

  • Shaun Whitfield 9th Jan '15 - 3:49pm

    Helen Tedcastle: “My reference regarding alleged neutrality was to the NSS, which has come up in our previous discussions.”

    Well , that’s not much use for readers of this thread unaware of our previous discussions.

    Anyway, who is alleging that the NSS is ‘neutral’ ?- it favours secularism and opposes religious privilege, the latter being the main reason I joined.

    In a comment above, John Tilley quotes from the Preamble to the Liberal Democrat Constitution as follows:
    “…we reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour,religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality…..”

    Therefore, as a Liberal Democrat I assume you support the rejection of all prejudice and discrimination based on, inter alia, religion, and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and equality. Or do you think that religious privileges in this country are justified and should continue, eg established CoE , faith schools and their discriminatory religious employment and admissions tests, tax breaks, chancel repair liability, 26 bishops in the Lords etc. ?

    By the way, while it is possible to insult an individual adherent of a faith, I don’t think you can insult the faith itself. That’s the territory occupied by the radical islamists.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 9th Jan ’15 – 3:08pm

    Quakers (mild mannered or otherwise) have throughout history been the subject of all sorts of abuse and assault because of their religion.
    Do not confuse their principled opposition to the use of violence or the threat of violence with wishy-washy “mild-mannered” ineffectivess. That would be a big mistake.

  • Helen Tedcastle 9th Jan '15 - 5:22pm

    Shaun Whitfield

    Secularism of the kind favoured by the nss posits the idea that religious communities which have a voice in the public arena are somehow vessels of privilege. This argument is almost always referring to the Cof E. It seems to upset the nss that there are 26 Bishops in a Lords out of around 800 appointees – many of whom are appointed for their links to party interest or big business. Patronage is okay though because at least the PM was elected on the minority of votes.

    However, the Bishops are more in touch with their local communities than most appointed politicians and big businessmen – they have informed their Lordships about the food banks the church has opened to feed thousands of people across the country. Has the nss done this? Does the nss get worked up into a lather about the privileges given to big business in politics in the same way it does about religious communities? No.

    So yes, I will continue to stand up for the freedom for faith communities to serve their localities, free from being squashed by the intolerance of a pressure group.

    What secularists such as yourself argue is ‘privilege’, is regarded by others as a mark of emancipation and acceptance in society.

    Insulting comments (see your comment of 11:29am) about faith and what you think it is, really are just that – insults, which add little to the debate.

  • David-1
    Under the concept of abrogation, the later Sura of the Sword abrogate the earlier Sura of Peace. There is also the Hadith.

  • Yes, that is one interpretation. In this, as in all matters of religious interpretation (at least where the religion has grown beyond the size of a cult operating in a single compound) there are differing views. I’ve seen similar facile interpretations of the Talmud, of the Christian fathers, and so forth. One can’t be an authority on “what Religion X says” — one can only have a more-or-less extensive knowledge of all the different ways in which a religion is interpreted, presented, taught, or received. One would need to do very thorough surveys to find out which of the various interpretations is dominant, and even then there would be doubt arising from how the questions were presented, and the extent to which the respondents second-guessed their meaning — or, simply, had no idea what the answers were. If I can be excused a generalisation, I suspect that most people are not too well versed in the philosophical and historical details of their religions, and instead accept a certain amount of ritual instruction, and a vague set of maxims which they believe to be of religious inspiration — sometimes correctly, often not.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 6:16pm

    David-1 (in response to my “Islam does see the Quran as one undivideable work where all parts have equal weight”)

    But that’s completely untrue.

    No it’s not completely untrue. What I mean is that the Quran doesn’t have the sort of division into a Old Testament and New Testament, with New Testament itself divided into other parts that the Bible has. Nor does the Quran have recognised author and context as the books of the Bible have – the position is that it was dictated word-by-word from God. The Quran was delivered over a relatively short period, not over a period of centuries. I am very aware that the Quran contains contradiction, and different schools which interpret it in different ways. I have actually read it (although only in English translation). You are jumping to a conclusion which goes far beyond the point I was trying to make. The actual point I was trying to make was that most people in this country just assume that all religion takes a Protestant form. The Protestant interpretation of the role of scripture in Christianity is much closer to the Muslim interpretation of the role of the Quran than is the Catholic interpretation. Why is it that I can’t point that out without someone like you coming along and accusing me of some sort of prejudice?

    In some ways the Shia interpretation of Islam is closer to Catholicism, with its veneration of the equivalent of saints, more of a clerical culture, and more use of images. So what is happening now in the Muslim world has some equivalent to what happened in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.

  • @Matthew: I don’t accuse you of prejudice.

  • @Matthew
    ” I am not expecting Meral Ece to jump up and down in protest at every atrocity done in the name of Islam. I would, however, like her and other influential Muslims who have a more liberal attitude to accept there is a problem of growing intolerance and extremism within Islam worldwide, and that ONLY THEY can do something about it.”

    This hits the nail on the head. Nobody expects or demands any sort of collective apology from the Muslim world. A lot of people just wish that more Muslims would speak up about these things simply because it might actually help, in a way that nothing else probably could.

    So why the resistance? Looking at photographs and videos of the various “Je Suis Charlie” vigils, the distinct lack of ethnic (and, presumably, religious) diversity is depressing. Back in 2003, many millions of Westerners took to the streets to say “not in my name”. Nobody demanded that they do it – they did it because they felt it was right. Let’s hope a good number of Muslims turn up to the unity rally in Paris on Sunday – that would be by far the most powerful riposte to these terrorists.

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Jan '15 - 6:39pm

    Tsar Nicholas

    I am more on the Matthew Huntbach side of things than on the Caron Lindsay side of things, if truth be told, but I don’t think discussing a major policy and philosophical stance is what anyone should do in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event such as the Paris massacre.

    I see in today’s Evening Standard Maajid Nawaz (a LibDem PPC) has made a similar point to the one I was making. I quote:

    We must also support Muslims to have an open discussion about abolishing medieval blasphemy traditions. The responsibility is especially heavy in Muslim religious leaders to initiate a reform discourse away from a literalist approach to religious texts. Many conservative Muslims may object to depictions of Mohammed; all should remember that it is precisely the freedoms that allow Muslim religious worship in the West that enable non-Muslims to satirise the religion. Such value are non-negotiable, and having this uncomfortable, necessary conversation in communities is long overdue. Without it there can be no long-term solution to stemming the flow of extremist recruits. Failure to do so, out of fear of terrorism or fear of being called “Islamophobic” grants a victory to reactionary forces”

    Now I would dispute his use of the word “literalist” (because I think it is unfair to those who do take a fairly literalist interpretation, but not one which emphasises the illiberal aspects), his use of the word “extremist” (because I would say an “extreme Muslim” is one who is very devout, which is not at all the same as one who takes an illiberal interpretation), and his use of the word “medieval” (because actually a lot of this illiberal interpretation is a modern thing, not a medieval thing). Nevertheless, the core of what he is saying is what I was saying: that there must be a discourse within the Muslim community to resolve what is happening, and we should not write off calls for it as “Islamophobic” in the way Caron Lindsay is doing to me.

  • @Matthew
    The usual commonsense from Maajid Nawaz. If only everybody thought like him, both Islamism and Islamophobia would cease to exist.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 9th Jan '15 - 8:14pm

    @Stuart, I hope Maajid gets elected in the forthcoming election, we need people like him in parliament.

  • Stephen Hesketh 9th Jan '15 - 8:48pm

    Graham Martin-Royle 9th Jan ’15 – 8:14pm
    “I hope Maajid gets elected in the forthcoming election, we need people like him in parliament.”

    Total agreement – also with Stuart’s point regarding Maajid being able to inform the debate against both Islamism and Islamophobia.

    Just listening to him on ‘Any Questions’. He is the outstanding panellist on tonight’s programme. The Liberal Democrats and Britain need this man in Parliament.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Jan '15 - 10:20am

    Can I please clarify some of the comments about me on this thread. It is not my intention, or indeed wish, to defend Islam. I’ll leave that to the scholars. I was brought up in a secular liberal tradition, and although I dislike women wearing the burqa, totally disagree with the French ban. Over recent years in the tabloid media, and now Rupert Murdoch himself has come out saying that all Muslims must apologise whenever there is a terrorist incident like the tragic Paris events. I have personally received dozens of messages demanding I condemn and some even asking me to apologise. I find this bigoted and racist.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Jan '15 - 10:37am

    Thanks Paul. Mark Steel has written a satirical piece on this subject, which hit the nail: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/charlie-hebdo-how-exactly-would-we-like-muslims-to-condemn-these-attacks-9966176.html

  • Helen Tedcastle 10th Jan '15 - 11:01am

    Well said Meral. Your comments on here are very welcome.

    Some areas of the British press concern me greatly, especially those journalists who call themselves liberals and then suggest muslims leave the country if they do not like the publication of offensive cartoons from Charlie Hebdo in the British press.

    That doesn’t sound like liberalism to me but old-fashioned bullying.

  • stuart moran 10th Jan '15 - 11:23am

    Helen

    It is bullying and it makes it look like publishing is not done because we should have free speech but to create a ‘them and us’ – the original cartoons were also provocative but in a way that couldn’t really be described as bullying

    What I would say on this is that British publications should be free to publish them if they want without fear of violent reprisals. Those who are offended by them should also be able to express that without fear of being told ‘well you should leave the country then’

    The thing with free speech is that you cannot have a sensible discussion on specific cases it really needs to be a global value. For example, those same tabloids would not be quite so happy if a satirical publication published an offensive cartoon about the Queen – would they then feel they had to leave the country if they opposed it?

    I have to be happy to defend things that offend me as much as those that I agree with – on specific examples it just gets into a bit of a mess

  • Meral Hussein Ece 10th Jan '15 - 12:06pm

    @ Helen Thanks for raising this. I can’t think of another section of British society, many if us born here, who are being told if they don’t like. Something or god forbid, find something funny, then we should leave the country. I’m not sure how anyone calling themselves a liberal or a democrat could possibly support this. As. A child of immigrants I grew up with ‘go back to your country’ type insults. Didn’t expect we’d hear this in the 21st century to rounds of applause in the BBC.

  • I find myself wanting to step back and simply label the those who killed at Charlie Hebdo as common murders. Trusting them as more than this gives them an inappropriate dignity, and invites a Muslim v Christian language whic is not appropriate.

    In France, as in the UK, there are laws which curb what people can publish when they do go too far — for example in defamation or incitement to hatred. If Muslims in either country would like to see the law changed, there are democratic channels for having the debate and making a wise decision in parliament.

    If we can just treat those who have killed as common murders, then they lose the status of “martyrs” and any positive publicity.

  • @Caron Lindsey: “people who commit these atrocities do not represent Islam or the overwhelming majority of Muslims”

    You’re right, they don’t represent the majority of Muslims? But who does? Islam doesn’t have a Pope and as far as I understand it nobody really has the right to speak for Islam?

    Saying that, I don’t believe Islam is like any other religion and I don’t think it should be treated a solely a religion either. As far as Muslims private beliefs about morality, heaven, hell etc go then that aspect of Islam is, I believe, religious.

    But Islam is so much more than a private set of beliefs, Islam also a political and legal system and has been since the time of it’s founder. Surely that aspect of Islam should be treated more like a political ideology because that is what it essentially is?

    The aspect of Islam that demands Islamic law and submission to the will of Islam’s God , what do you think of that side of the religion Caron?

  • That you very much for that link to the Mark steel piece, Meral. Great sense and great humour!

  • “But Islam is so much more than a private set of beliefs”

    This is true of every religion, except for those which are completely individual and have no social context. Islam is nothing special in that regard.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '15 - 7:36pm

    Paul Walter

    Well said Meral. As a Christian, I don’t remember being asked to condemn or apologise for numerous atrocities in the name of Christianity in Ireland over the last century.

    What atrocities?

    The IRA never refers to itself as “Catholic” and never makes reference to religion. It happens that most of its members and supporters are Catholics, but it did not do what it did “in the name of religion”.

    Atrocities committed by the British government and it agents were not done in the name of religion either.

    On the Unionist side, some elements were more openly making direct links to their religion, but even there, their primary motivation expressed in their reasons for doing what they did was not a religious one.

  • stuart moran 10th Jan '15 - 7:50pm

    Ireland’s conflict was not religious as Matthew said

    It was built on a nationalistic tradition coming from the the feudal structure there. There was a religious aspect in that most of the power was in the hands of protestants and the workers catholics but it was not exclusively the case

    Remember that Wolf Tone was a protestant as well

    This is one of the difficulties is that religion. although a belief, is often linked to particular populations/groups so a conflict which has no real religious dimension can give that impression, and also sometimes be exploited

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Jan '15 - 8:07pm

    Meral Hussein Ece

    Can I please clarify some of the comments about me on this thread. It is not my intention, or indeed wish, to defend Islam.

    But that is the very thing you did in your first post here, and have continued to do. You are defending Islam by denying there is a problem of intolerance and illiberalism and love of violence among SOME people who call themselves “Muslim”. I am not saying that the Paris murderers are “representative” of Muslims worldwide, but I am noting that they BELIEVE they are, and indeed believe they are the best and most noble representatives of them. When I say that I think Muslims should do something to stop this misinterpretation, you and Caron accuse me of being “Islamophobic”. You say that Muslims are killing Muslims, so that’s an indication that there’s no problem of violence in the Muslim world, that’s rather daft, I think. If we saw Christians killing Christains in the name of different versions of Christianity (as has happened in history) would we say “Oh, that proves there is no problem of violence in Christianity”?

    Now the point I’ve been trying to make is that I believe this over-defensive attitude, over-willingness to see “Islamophobia” everywhere, refusal to allow rational discussion of concerns, denial that there is a problem among SOME Muslims of intolerance and violent attitudes, is contributing towards the overall problem which right at the fringes leads to what we have seen.

    You say that what happened in Paris is just one or two individuals, nothing at all to do with 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. But what those individuals did is what is done by the law of the state in Pakistan. The Charlie Hebdo people would have been considered criminals and executed for what they did in Pakistan. So aren’t those people in Paris just following what they believe to be the right thing to do according to the people and government of Pakistan? Are those people and government not part of that 1.6 billion? I read today of someone in Saudi Arabia who was threatened with being executed by the state for “apostasy”. There was a recent case of that in Sudan as well. So it’s not just one or two individuals, it’s whole states consisting of millions of people who think it right to kills someone because they have altered their religious beliefs. Are the people who make and enforce those laws in Saudi Arabia and Sudan not part of that 1.6 billion?

    If apostasy or blasphemy are such bad and evil things as to deserve the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and Sudan and Pakistan and quite a few other countries, then surely it should be considered heroic and good for others elsewhere to take things into their own hands and kill those elsewhere they think guilty of those bad things. Those who say this must be done and administer the death penalty for it in all those countries where that is done ARE in effect saying it is a good thing to do, and so are very much supporting indirectly what the Paris murderers did. So, sorry, but I disagree with your statement that it is nothing to do with those 1.6 billion people. Actually it IS to do with quite a large proportion of them.

    When I say there is a problem, I am not saying it is an inherent problem. But I do think denying it exists and accusing anyone who expresses concern about it of being “Islamophobic” isn’t going to help get that problem resolved.

  • stuart moran 10th Jan '15 - 8:17pm

    Thanks for that Matthew

    thought-provoking and challenging

  • Iv hear you and read what you really want to do is surrender to Islam let these thugs win by even more Muslim law in our country and you wonder why the political class are not held in respect Liberal one thing give your Country away another

  • @Matthew
    “Now the point I’ve been trying to make is that I believe this over-defensive attitude, over-willingness to see “Islamophobia” everywhere, refusal to allow rational discussion of concerns, denial that there is a problem among SOME Muslims of intolerance and violent attitudes, is contributing towards the overall problem which right at the fringes leads to what we have seen.”

    Totally agree with this. As I’ve just opined in another thread, exaggerating the incidence of Islamophobia is harmful to community relations in exactly the same way that exaggerating the incidence of Islamic extremism is.

  • Jenny Tonge 11th Jan '15 - 2:59pm

    A bit of a late comer to all this but I never do think of Lib Dem Voice until prompted.
    So our Dear Leader says that everyone has a right to offend and no one has a right not to be offended.
    Can I humbly ask what David Ward and I have done to get the treatment meted out to us? OK we weren’t killed, but we have both suffered politically and I receive regular abusive letters and sometimes death threats.
    Apparently, it is Ok to offend anyone or group except the Israel Lobby. Why? I have never criticised Jewish people or the Jewish faith, so what is the Dear Leader’s problem?
    Pure hypocrisy is my diagnosis and I expect that is offensive, but we can do that now. He has given us permission to offend, OK? Time he sorted himself out.

  • David Cooper 11th Jan '15 - 6:41pm

    @Jenny Tonge
    Giving offence can have consequences, and rightly so. If you offend Zionists you must expect a vociferous comeback, which may damage your political career. If you offend Islamists they murder you.

    If you can’t see the difference between hardball democratic politics and a murderous death cult, I’m disturbed you are in the House of Lords.

  • Helen Tedcastle 11th Jan '15 - 7:12pm

    @ David Cooper

    Intemperate language at this time is not helpful.

  • stuart moran 11th Jan '15 - 7:19pm

    Helen

    Totally agree with your comment

  • Clearly the Chilcot Report should be published now

  • Tsar Nicolas 12th Jan '15 - 6:38am

    David Cooper”

    “If you can’t see the difference between hardball democratic politics and a murderous death cult, I’m disturbed you are in the House of Lords.”

    Interesting . . . killing 2000 men, women and children in the Gaza strip is hardball, democratic politics.

  • Matthew Huntbach 13th Jan '15 - 10:29am

    Tsar Nicholas

    Interesting . . . killing 2000 men, women and children in the Gaza strip is hardball, democratic politics.

    No, I do not believe it is. I believe it is disgusting. Had Britain acted towards provocation in Ireland in the way Israel reacted in Gaza, there would have been a mass bombing of West Belfast and various other places. As it was, vile over-reactions like Bloody Sunday were enough to stir things up and make it worse not better.

    However, I do get fed up of Gaza, Gaza, Gaza. Gaza,Gaza, Gaza, Gaza, Gaza. There are many circles in which from what is said one might think the Gazans were the most oppressed people in the world, that nothing like what was happening there was happening anywhere else. I think there is a great deal of hypocrisy in people who go on about Gaza, but are silent about other places where people are being killed or forced to flee in their thousands.

    Gaza,Gaza, Gaza, Gaza, Gaza is, of course, being used as propaganda to recruit impressionable youngsters to the idea that there’s some sort of Islam v. the West worldwide conflict, so they must go out and, er kill loads of Muslims as well as Christians and Yazidis etc, to defend Islam. I think those who go on about Gaza,Gaza, Gaza, Gaza, Gaza ought to show that they are genuinely concerned for humanitarian reasons, and nit just using the plight of the Gazans for propaganda reasons by showing equal concern over the other places where minorities are being persecuted and killed and forced to flee from their homes.

    The terrorist mentality is this – provoke, wait for the backlash, say you are the protectors of the people, provoke again, and again and again. We need to oppose that mentality and condemn it as sickening hypocrisy wherever it comes from. It came from the IRA in Northern Ireland, and it comes from Hamas in Gaza, as two prominent examples.

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