The New English Review has been live only a few days; perhaps at this stage all bloggers should be singing from the same hymn sheet. Unfortunately, this, my maiden post, must be a dissenting view.
I admire Diana West's work greatly and share her views on Islam. However, I strongly disagree with the main argument of her recent article
on the Abu Hamza trial.
The job of the prosecution counsel in the Abu Hamza trial is to demonstrate, beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendant has broken the law. At the moment, preaching from the Koran is not illegal so the Koran is irrelevant to the prosecution argument. What is relevant is whether Abu Hamza's words - Koran-inspired or not - could incite murder and racial hatred. The prosecution counsel is quite right to distance himself from the words of the Koran, to state: "This prosecution is not brought to criticize Islam or criticise the teachings of the Koran. It is brought because of what the defendant says."
Conversely, the job of the counsel for the defence is to defend his client, regardless of whether he personally thinks he is guilty, or, certainly, whether anyone else - the public, The Telegraph, The Sun, - think he is a "bad lot". Although the defence lawyer only has to prove that there is reasonable doubt about Hamza's guilt, given the weight of the evidence against him, he faces an uphill struggle. Like the "cultural" defence in the Australian rape case
, citing the Koran is the best the lawyer can do. And, just as that defence did not convince, nor, in all probability, will this.
If a Muslim man, believing that the Koran sanctions this, rapes a non-Muslim woman who is "immodestly" dressed, the last thing the prosecuting counsel should do is to challenge the words of the Koran. To do so would be to muddy the waters, perhaps allowing the defendant to escape justice on a technicality. A Muslim man charged with rape should be treated like any other man charged with rape. Equality before the law means just that - making no allowances, favourable or unfavourable, for cultural or religious differences.
Diana West concludes by saying, "In other words, whether or not Abu Hamza does hard time, jihad gets a pass." Maybe so, but jihad is not on trial, nor is the Koran. Abu Hamza is. The ideology of Islam, specifically jihad, should be put on trial - in the court of public opinion. It is to be hoped that this and other high profile cases will raise public awareness of the aggressive nature of this ideology. But a court of law, this court, should not be used for any purpose other than trying the defendant; if the trial is not conducted properly, he may be "off the hook". Of course Abu Hamza is innocent until proved guilty, but, realistically, we wouldn't want that, would we?