I don’t want to live under Islamic blasphemy law. That doesn’t make me racist

Douglas Murray in the Spectator. You should follow the link and read it all. 

I have spent most of the last fortnight debating Islam and blasphemy and wanted to take the opportunity to put down a few unwritten thoughts.

In the immediate aftermath of the Paris atrocities most of the people who thought the journalists and cartoonists in some sense ‘had it coming to them’ kept their heads down.  I encountered a few who did not, including Asghar Bukhari from the MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Committee).  In the aftermath of the atrocity Asghar was immediately eager to smear the cartoonists and editors of Charlie Hebdo as racists.  From what he and others of his ilk have been sending around since, they appear to have dug down into a narrative which now goes something like this: ‘The murders had nothing to do with Islam, Muslims or Islamic blasphemy law.  They certainly had something to do with Western foreign policy or domestic Islamophobia.  But by the way Charlie Hebdo is a racist magazine.’

For the first time, MPAC proved to be ahead of the curve.  Because by the end of the first week after the atrocity more ‘mainstream’ and ‘moderate’ voices joined in with this narrative.  .  . And by this particular standard (ignoring Charlie Hebdo’s attacks on all presidents, popes and politicians) the magazine’s portrayal of Mohammed constituted a clear criticism of Islam, which is uniquely bad because Islam is followed by Muslims and Muslims constitute a cowering and beleaguered minority.

But like most other arguments against Charlie Hebdo in recent weeks what this boils down to is a scramble for a justification for why Islamic blasphemy law must be observed even in Western Europe.

The most shocking scramble came from the Cambridge don Abdal Hakim Murad (‘Tim Winters’ until his conversion to Islam).  Hakim, or Tim, is often held up as a model of moderation, though I have had reason to doubt this claim before.  And now there is even more cause to doubt it, because earlier this week we had him (and remember this is someone regularly held up as one of the great hopes of ‘liberal’ Islam in Britain) using the pages of the Telegraph to argue that the law of the land in Britain should be used to prosecute anyone who blasphemes Islam.  In the UK.  In the 21st century. More on this terrible article fromHugh Fitzgerald here.

Hakim / Tim also went on to describe drawings of his ‘prophet’ as an ‘act of violence’.  We should dwell on that for a moment.  A drawing of Mohammed is an ‘act of violence.’  Taken along with his other claims (about how beleaguered, put-upon and persecuted he thinks Muslims are across Europe) someone who had just delved back into the news after an absence of several weeks might easily come away  with the idea that earlier this month a bunch of cartoonists stormed a mosque in Paris and gunned down Muslims.  Like a lot of other readers of Hakim / Tim’s article, I was also left wondering how many years you would have to go back to find a Cambridge don using the pages of the Telegraph to call for greater state enforcement of blasphemy laws.  

Like I said, read it all.