Have a listen to my conversation with LBC breakfast show host, Nick Ferrari, a few days ago.
With the censorious nature of the society we presently live in, it was refreshing to be allowed to be so candid in a broadcast with some 1.5 million listeners. As you would expect, Ferrari had to issue the usual groveling apology at the end to those who may have been offended by my analogous terminology, but it certainly did not – and never would – dissuade me from describing the situation as I honestly see it. We DO have many Muslim women in parts of the UK happy to dress up like Darth Vader in a massive middle-fingered gesture to Western values and gender equality. It’s not mandated by scripture; it isn’t acceptable in a number of Muslim societies with anything like a semblance of of female freedom (you certainly would never see it in Turkey or Tunisia, for example); and it certainly isn’t compatible with an age where terrorist and criminal threats should necessitate the exposure of one’s face in all public places at all times.
This particular World Cup in Qatar has certainly created a fissure between those happy to point out the human rights failings of that particular country, and those just happy to take an international footballing tournament at face value. As I said to Ferrari, I don’t mind which side of the fence you’re happy to sit on. True, there are failings and inconsistencies in both arguments. For example, when the Republic of Ireland took part in the most memorable World Cup of my lifetime (Italia 90), the Irish state was three years away from legalising homosexuality. I don’t recall Jack Charlton’s men (a large proportion of whom were actually English with Irish ancestry) wearing ‘One Love’ armbands in protest against the denial of gay rights in the country they were representing. However, it has to be said we were then living in a more sensible age where the natural dividing lines of both human behaviour and biology were more readily acknowledged then they are now. The other side of the argument suggests we shouldn’t just ignore the numerous abuses of workers’ rights, homosexuals and women in order to enjoy the unbridled pleasure of ‘The Beautiful Game’. Whichever side you wish to support, you should think carefully about the other side’s point of view.
Nevertheless, what I can’t abide are those folk happy to upbraid a country 2,500 miles away but equally keen to suppress any notion that Islamic extremism is also incubated, germinated and is flourishing in certain areas of the United Kingdom. As I made clear in my radio conversation, try being openly gay and walking through areas such as Whalley Range in Blackburn, Manningham in Bradford or Savile Town in Dewsbury. For goodness sake, only last year a school in Savile Town was reprimanded by Ofsted for stocking reading material in its library calling on homosexuals to be ‘punished’.
Just what do these theocratic Neanderthals have in mind? Stoning? Public hanging? How much is this sort of prehistoric thinking being replicated in other ‘Islamic seats of scholarly learning’?
‘Ah, but Nick Ferrari was right in his response to you’, I hear you say. Indeed, he had a pretty powerful point when he said the difference between the UK and Qatar is that anti-gay attitudes are not supported by any officialdom. You wouldn’t find homophobia sanctioned by any central or regional government here in Britain. That prompted me to argue the following comeback: “But that doesn’t mean that the experiences of those at the receiving end is (sic) any different from what they would experience in Qatar.” What good is the law when it cannot protect vulnerable citizens from hordes of baying Islamic mobs? Where is the protection of the law when it comes to the RE teacher from Batley Grammar School, hounded from his home under threat of attack following nothing more than a lesson on interpretations of blasphemy in which he (gasp, gasp) ‘dared’ to show an image of the Prophet Muhammad in class? He is STILL in hiding! Where was the protection of the law for Bradford’s bookshops back in 1989 when they were told that if they continued to stock Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verses’, they would be a serious rick of being firebombed? And let’s not even get on to the unmitigated evil of so-called ‘honour killings’, which have almost doubled in the past five years. As for the grooming gangs and their nefarious industrial-scale raping of young white and Sikh girls, not only did the law not protect the victims, but many in important circles actually conspired to bury the evidence lest they be seen as being racist! Are we honestly supposed to believe that fundamentalist Muslims – given their approaches to other matters of sacred principle in Western societies – are prepared to treat the issue of gay rights in the UK with equanimity? Don’t make me laugh! Geez, nearly every gay Muslim I’ve ever talked to has had to hide their sexual inclinations for fear of bringing ‘dishonour upon the family name’.
There is another equally worrying point to close with here. It’s all very well to argue Britain is a strong enough country to safeguard minority protections, but for how long? Could we have imagined 50 years ago the sight of Muslim radicals standing on British streets calling for those who insult the religion to be decapitated…and escaping any punishment? Could we have contemplated back in the 1970s the explosion in madrassas and bookshops with radical texts contained therein? Could we have foreseen London becoming one of the epicentres for the promotion of extremist material? If the Islamic population of the UK and Europe continues to grow exponentially, it is entirely reasonable to assume the numbers of radicals will also increase manifold. Have we in the West really taken such strides in thinking, tolerance and acceptance of minority lifestyles only to see them eventually extinguished under a demographic tsunami of Muslim expansion as their opinions strengthen in tandem with their numbers? Perhaps the Joe Lycetts, Gary Nevilles and Alan Shearers of this country might want to look at some of the issues around extremism on their own doorstep, before they start tut-tutting about attitudes and cultures holding sway on a distant Arabian peninsula.