An even handed response is the only way forward

I haven’t commented about the cartoons of Mohammed and the reaction that they have caused yet, I wanted to get the full picture before I commented. It is far too easy to give a knee jerk reaction to events like these.

The decision to print the cartoons in the first instance was unwise; the relationship between western nations and Muslims could not have been improved by their release. I do however completely defend the paper’s right to publish them.

Free speech is important and has to be defended; this is why I completely support the Conservatives’ opposition to the incitement to religious hatred bill. As you will see from my post about the Gerry Springer play, I do not feel that any religion is above parody. I believe that if your faith is strong you can and should rise above such things. The Danish government has done the right thing in standing by its press freedoms.

The ensuing attacks on Danish embassies are completely unforgivable, if depressingly predictable.

What has been most worrying for me is Labour’s appalling lack of courage in dealing with this issue. The half hearted criticism in the Number 10 statement is pathetic.

“We understand the offence caused by the cartoons depicting the prophet and of course regret that this has happened. Such things help no one.

It is always sensible for freedom of expression to be exercised with respect for religious belief. But nothing can justify the violence aimed at European embassies or at the country of Denmark.

We and our EU partners stand in full solidarity with them in resisting this violence and believe the Danish government has done everything it reasonably can to handle a very difficult situation. The attacks on the citizens of Denmark and the people of other European countries are completely unacceptable as is behavioriour of some of the demonstrators in London over the last few days.

The police should have our full support in any actions they may wish to take in respect of any breaches of the law, though again we understand the difficult situation they had to manage. We also strongly welcome the statements of Muslim leaders here who are themselves tackling the extremists who abuse their community’s good name.”

I find the use of the word “unacceptable” in this context unacceptable. I think that the word they were looking might be criminal. Compare this response provided by the Conservative home affairs team.

The most worrying element of this whole incident is the reaction to those members of the London demonstrations who carried banners advocating murder. The acceptable boundaries of free speech clearly stop at incitement to murder.

The police have a duty to prevent and detect crime and to arrest criminals. Those protesters who crossed the line from protest to incitement should be arrested, if they were members of the BNP saying similar things about Muslims they would have been.

Griffin of the BNP made a number of detestable remarks about Muslims and was taken to court and tried accordingly. I think that he and the party he represents are sickening, however he stopped well short of incitement to murder. I hope that we am not seeing the emergence of, politically sponsored, relative morality it will only play into the hands of racists if we are.

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