A couple of weeks back I wrote an article headed: ‘Call me insane, but I’m voting Labour.’ Among the many hundreds of people who reacted with the rather predictable ‘Yes, you’re insane’ was my wife, Mrs Liddle. She pointed out that Ed Miliband had vowed that upon being elected, Labour would make Islamophobia a crime. ‘So,’ she concluded, with a certain acidity, ‘not only will we be substantially worse off under a Labour government, but at nine o’clock on the morning of 8 May the police will arrive to take you away. You are voting for a party which will both impoverish and arrest you. You are a moron.’
Yes. She has a point. I hadn’t realised that Ed was going to make Islamophobia a crime. Part of me rather agrees with criminalising these sorts of psychological conditions — I have always thought that agoraphobia, for example, should be against the law, as I cannot abide people who whine about how they can’t go out to places. Get a grip. And I have never had much time for linonophobes, either: string is incredibly useful and to be scared of it is just stupid. Bang these people up, I say. Similarly, pentheraphobia, which is an irrational hatred of one’s mother-in-law. Not pleasant. A short term in prison would sort all of these people out.
But Islamophobia? That seems to me an entirely rational response to an illiberal, vindictive and frankly fascistic creed. I am not a Muslimophobe — I am well aware that enormous numbers of Muslims do not subscribe to all of the particularly unpleasant tenets of Islam as it is practised and preached today. Not all of them wish to chop your head off or stone you to death or simply imprison you for not being one of them, or for being homosexual, or Jewish, or for renouncing your faith because you’ve suddenly realised that it is illiberal, vindictive and fascistic. Not all of them believe that democracy is — much as Hitler saw it — evil, decadent and weak (and not a match for the will of Allah), or that women should be dressed in sackcloth and ashes and not allowed to be educated or to go to work. Or that non-Muslims are a lower species of human being, scarcely human beings at all — ‘cattle’, as the, uh, liberal Muslim columnist Mehdi Hassan once put it. Not all of them persecute or murder Christians, or simply ban them from worshipping their God. Not all of them believe the Holocaust didn’t happen, or that it did happen and it was a bloody good thing, all things considered. Or that freedom of speech and freedom of thought are both ludicrous concepts.
It’s the ideology I have a problem with, then, not so much the people. Although having said that, I’m not keen on those beards they all have. But that’s another issue. Lifelong pogonophobic, me.
The temptation now, then, is to be as Islamophobic as humanly possible, in one short burst, and get it all out of the way before the new laws come in. Or alternatively, to gain a sort of strange kudos by being the first person to be arrested under the Miliband regime. I have competition here, mind. I note that my friend and colleague Douglas Murray has said that he would be proud to be the first arrested under the new laws.
Well, it’s not going to happen. I am much, much, more Islamophobic than you, Douglas, and frankly your presumption grates a little. Douglas has form here — he has previously written of his aspiration to win the Islamophobe of the Year trophy, an award handed out by the delightfully oxymoronic Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC). That won’t happen, either, Douglas. You are not even in a Europa League spot regarding this particular prize.
This year’s Islamophobe of the Year was the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo — obviously, murdering the people who ran the magazine was not quite enough for the IHRC. It thought Charlie Hebdo needed another bash over the head. Incidentally, the IHRC is considered to be one of the more liberal and humanitarian Islamic organisations in this country.
The last Labour government tried to make it a crime to ‘disrespect’ Islam, at the behest of clamorous Muslim pressure groups. As you will see next week, Labour relies upon the Allah block vote in very many constituencies (and especially the postal votes of Muslim constituents who do not speak English and probably do not even know that a general election is taking place). Ed Miliband’s latest wheeze is a similar genuflection to Mecca for political gain, although the man is so staggeringly deluded he probably believes in it ideologically.
Anyway, just as New Labour pondered bringing in this new law, the then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, was interviewed by police about comments he had made on the Radio 4 PM programme about homosexuals — interviewed at his home under laws Labour had brought in to criminalise that other psychological condition, homophobia. Sir Iqbal had divested himself of the opinion that homosexuality wasn’t terribly good for society. I think that’s a very moderate interpretation of Islam’s hadiths on the subject, and certainly more moderate than the views held by every single Islamic government operating in the world today. I suppose if Ed Miliband’s latest proposed law had been in force back then, Sir Iqbal (knighthood for services to community relations, by the way) would have been able to press charges against the police on the count of Islamophobia.
There is no such thing as Islamophobia, of course. There are people who dislike Islam and will continue to dislike it no matter what fatuous legislation is enacted by the forthcoming Labour/SNP coalition from hell. And they dislike it for perfectly good, rational, reasons.