Letters: the courts are not trying to subvert parliament

Judge not Sir: The claim by Ross Clark (‘Keir’s law’, 22 June) that the left can achieve what it wants by relying, in part, on ‘judicial activism’ is uninformed and misleading. I can assure Mr Clark and those who might share his sentiments that the courts are, in general, at pains to respect the separation of powers and the will of parliament. A cursory consideration of recent decisions from the Supreme Court would have revealed this. For example, in a judgment handed down in April, Lord Sales (delivering the unanimous judgment of that court) reaffirmed the already well-established principle that ‘in the field of social welfare policy, courts should normally be

What the demise of Quilliam teaches us about Britain and Islam

There was much rejoicing among Britain’s Islamists last week when the thinktank and campaigning organisation Quilliam announced that it was closing. The Islamists were pleased because for the 14 years since its founding Quilliam has been the most prominent Muslim-run organisation arguing for a progressive, non-Islamist Islam. The exact reasons why Quilliam has shut down are not clear. The co-founder, Maajid Nawaz, has blamed the difficulties of sustaining a non-profit in the era of Covid. Perhaps it is that, or perhaps it is something else. The group never had an easy ride. But the fact that it didn’t, and that so many prominent British Muslims are celebrating its demise, points

Are Switzerland and France really ‘Islamophobic’?

Is Switzerland ‘Islamophobic’? Critics of the country’s decision to outlaw face coverings think so. The ‘Burqa ban’, which passed into law this week as a result of a narrow vote in a referendum, applies to any form of face covering in a public gathering, unless worn for health reasons, at religious congregations, or carnivals. The legislation is not, at least directly, aimed at Muslims. And, what’s more, very few Swiss Muslims wear a burqa or niqab: almost no-one in Switzerland wears a burka and only around 30 women wear the niqab, according to research by the University of Lucerne. But the condemnation has nonetheless been swift. It was ‘a dark day’ for Muslims, the Central Council of

The creeping criminalisation of causing offence

At a time when resources are scarce, the Merseyside Constabulary must have thought long and hard about its recent advertising campaign: a stern message to the people of the Wirral. ‘Being offensive,’ it declared, ‘is an offence.’ The slogan was put on a van along with text urging the public to inform on transgressors. Four officers posed beside it for a photograph, as if standing ready to enforce its orders. The police only recognised their error after a public outcry. ‘We would like to clarify,’ said Superintendent Martin Earl, ‘that “being offensive” is not in itself an offence.’ On its own, the incident is merely an embarrassment, but it represents

Full text: Labour’s suspension letter to Trevor Phillips

News broke this morning that the former head of the Equalities Commission Sir Trevor Phillips had been suspended from the Labour party over allegations of Islamophobia. Phillips has spent his career documenting the realities of race and integration in British life.  The think tank Policy Exchange has now released the correspondence between Sir Trevor and the Labour party disciplinary department. Phillips is a senior fellow at the research institute.  You can read the full Policy Exchange document here and the letters below: Phillips sent the following response:

Why I’m cynical about politicians ‘doing God’

Alastair Campbell famously declared that ‘We don’t do God’, yet it is customary that part of an election campaign includes wooing Britain’s minority faith communities – be they Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims. Boris and Corbyn are no exception. In recent weeks, both party leaders have donned saffron headscarves while visiting Sikh temples (gurdwara). Both have published congratulatory tweets on the 550th birthday of Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak, and participated in the langar or free kitchen (always a good photo op). Boris even had a go at making the notoriously elusive round chapati with worshippers in Milton Keynes and Southall. Meanwhile, Corbyn visited a Hindu temple to mark Diwali, seen in

The problem with ‘Islamophobia’ and the Tory party

On Sunday, Policy Exchange held three events at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester – one on the Irish backstop with Arlene Foster, Leader of the DUP; one with Michael Gove talking to Iain Martin on how to deliver Brexit; and one on the subject of Islamophobia. There were some fascinating moments throughout the afternoon. But the most memorable speech of the day was at the session on Islamophobia – an event which is now being horribly misrepresented on Twitter, including by the NUS president, Zamzam Ibrahim, who claims that it denied ‘the existence of anti-Muslim bigotry’. She could not be more wrong. The event was chaired by Trevor Phillips,

Why was a GCSE student disqualified for criticising halal meat?

We have to talk about the schoolgirl who was disqualified from a GCSE exam on the grounds that she had made ‘obscene racial comments’ about Islam. This bizarre incident is being chalked up to overzealous wokeness on the part of some GCSE examiners. But it’s more than that. It tells us a bigger story about 21st-century Britain and the creeping criminalisation of any questioning of Islam. Too many institutions now believe it is their role to monitor and even punish anti-Islam ‘blasphemy’. The girl — Abigail Ward — is 16 years old and a strict vegetarian. In her GCSE Religious Studies exam she wrote some critical comments about halal meat.

The Tories are right to reject the flawed definition of ‘Islamophobia’

As a Muslim, I find the term ‘Islamophobia’ an etymological fallacy. Islam, by the definition of its founder the Prophet Mohammed and its greatest philosophers (al-Farabi, Ibn Tufayl, Averroes), is considered to be a ‘natural way’.  Humans cannot have a phobia against nature. It is the height of moral insanity for an intelligent Muslim to place the word ‘Islam’ and the word ‘phobia’ together in a single phrase. The term ‘Islamophobia’ was lifted from discrimination against homosexuals: homophobia. The parallels do not stand up to serious scrutiny between Islam as an idea, a faith, a civilisation, a motivator for behaviour and homosexuality as a private practice of consenting adults that had led to punishment and

The Muslim leader who offers an example on how to tackle Islamism

The Christchurch attack has prompted a considerable degree of soul-searching in the West about the potential impact of anti-Muslim rhetoric. The need to tackle deadly far-right conspiracy theories is clear for all to see and the debate about how to do so continues. But what lessons might we learn from the response to Christchurch in the Muslim world, where I spent many years of my professional life working? Yahya Cholil Staquf, the general secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama – the largest independent Muslim organisation in the world – wrote a good piece in the Daily Telegraph this week under the headline, “Don’t weaponise the term ‘Islamophobia’”. A week after the terrorist attack in Christchurch, he calls

Who should we blame for the Christchurch atrocity? | 18 March 2019

A frequent complaint heard from Muslim communities in recent years has been irritation and anger over any suggestion that Muslims – as a whole – need to apologise for attacks carried out in the name of their religion. I have sympathy for this irritation, tying as it does innocent people to the actions of guilty ones. But since the attack in New Zealand was carried out by a non-Muslim who was targeting Muslims, whether or not it needs to be said still it should be said – indeed must be said – that non-Muslims abhor, are disgusted, outraged and sickened by somebody going into a place of worship and gunning down innocent

A new definition of Islamophobia could be a recipe for trouble

There is a looming risk the Government will soon subscribe to a definition of Islamophobia that will function as a backdoor blasphemy law shielding one religion from valid criticism, even by fellow believers. At worst, the proposed definition of Islamophobia could pave the way to a police state in which none of us can be sure when we might be arrested. Until 28 January, the Home Affairs Committee is calling for evidence on Islamophobia. It is considering the definition proposed recently by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on British Muslims, co-chaired by Anna Soubry and Wes Streeting. It has proposed the following definition: ‘Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is

Define ‘Islamophobia’

Sadiq Khan is an Islamophobe. Not just any old Islamophobe, and not just in the woollier parts of the web. According to a group part-funded by the EU called the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), the mayor of London, a practising Muslim, is one of the four ‘politicians and figures of note in the UK who [have] flagrantly displayed the most Islamophobia’ in 2018. Barack Obama is an Islamophobe. Cathy Newman, the Channel 4 News presenter, is an Islamophobe. So are Louise Casey, who led an inquiry into the Rotherham grooming scandal, Michael Wilshaw, the ex-head of Ofsted, and Maajid Nawaz, the Muslim counter-extremism activist. Over the last few years,

The ‘Islamophobia’ problem

This is a good time to bury bad news. And sure enough it turns out that a cross-party group of MPs and peers that includes the failed MP Baroness Warsi has chosen this moment to try to persuade the government to adopt their own definition of ‘Islamophobia’. Long-time readers will know that I have no sympathy for this term. The most succinct summary of the problem is often erroneously attributed to the late Christopher Hitchens. It is that, Islamophobia is ‘a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.’ That ‘Islamophobia’ was created by fascists is provable: the term was conjured up and pumped into the international

The ‘Islamophobia’ problem | 27 November 2018

This is a good time to bury bad news. And sure enough it turns out that a cross-party group of MPs and peers that includes the failed MP Baroness Warsi has chosen this moment to try to persuade the government to adopt their own definition of ‘Islamophobia’. Long-time readers will know that I have no sympathy for this term. The most succinct summary of the problem is often erroneously attributed to the late Christopher Hitchens. It is that, Islamophobia is ‘a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons.’ That ‘Islamophobia’ was created by fascists is provable: the term was conjured up and pumped into the international

Why Boris is wrong about burkas

Were you aware that men who transition into women can suffer period pains, despite not having a uterus? Oh, they can, apparently. There is of course no scientific explanation for this phenomenon, nor could there be, other than perhaps that the transitionee is mentally ill. But it is no longer enough simply to accept that a bloke who has had his scrotum turned inside out is as authentically female as a, um, female — you have to accept his right to a whole plethora of imagined victimhoods which are real enough in proper females but couldn’t possibly pertain to him (and which may, further down the line, include this new

The Spectator’s Notes | 16 March 2017

The great achievement of the Scottish Nationalists is to persuade people outside the borders of their own nation — including the London-based media — to equate them with the Scottish people. Obviously, they are their chief elected representatives just now, but the result of the referendum on Scottish independence quite clearly showed that the equation is false. So when Nicola Sturgeon says there has to be another referendum because of Brexit, the equation should be much more firmly challenged. There is no moral reason why the result of a declaredly UK-wide referendum should require another vote in part of the kingdom (next, UDI for London?). Nor is there a constitutional

The terrible truth

Here’s the bad news. One day you or someone like you will be shopping in a mall or enjoying a concert or about to catch a train when the first sudden, sharp crack will rend the air and your world will change forever. Around you, people will start to crumple and as the panic and horror finally dawn the screams will begin while the automatic rifle fire escalates and those still standing will begin to flee — but where to? If you run away from the gunfire you’re being herded into a trap. If you run towards it you’ll be shot, either killed immediately, or casually, later, as you lie

When is a hate crime not a hate crime?

I’ve always been somewhat bemused by the concept of ‘hate crime’ – a phrase which first came into use in the US in the 1980s and into practice in the UK in 1998. I must say that the idea that it is somehow worse to beat up or kill someone because you object to their race or religion, than because you’re a nasty piece of work who felt like beating up or killing someone, strikes me as quite extraordinary – hateful, even, implying that some lives are worth more than others. Are we not all human, do we not all bleed? If we’re murdered, do not those who love us

It’s time the Government ended its silence on Sikh hate crime victims

On 15 September 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner, was arranging flowers outside his family business in Arizona. He had just returned from Costco, where he purchased some American flags and donated money to a fund for victims of 9/11. Moments later, he was shot dead. Sodhi, a turbaned Sikh, goes down in history as the first person killed in retribution for the Al Qaeda terror attacks. On his arrest, his murderer Frank Roque told police, ‘I’m a patriot and American.’ Fifteen years on, Sikhs, both in the US and Britain, are acutely aware that hate does not discriminate. And Sikhs, like Muslims, continue to face the backlash to