Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.





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Friday, 13 February 2015

FANNING THE FLAMES



It is becoming increasingly the case that very senior public servants who have occupied well cushioned seats in the judiciary, police or armed services and retaining influence in many quarters reveal their underlying philosophies in retirement whether from the red benches of the House of Lords or the ivory towers of Oxbridge.  This week Lord Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice, in a lecture at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies championed the cause of protecting Muslims from being offended. He was of course referring to recent tragic events in Paris.


* His comments were described by the Archbishop of Canterbury as being, “not very helpful.” [see below full piece from The Times (behind its paywall)].



Muslims have generally lived as the majority population of nations or states but  more than 300 million Muslims, or one-fifth of the world’s Muslim population, live in countries where Islam is not the majority religion.  That now includes England.  Often where there is a minority Muslim population eg in India, Russia,  China and Burma  there has been inter-communal strife.  In this country giving offence has been the flip side of our concept of free speech just as outrageously enormous wages  paid to four hundred footballers is the flip side of capitalism and the concept of demand and supply economics. 



S.5 of the Public Order Act 1986, after much lobbying, has finally been amended to remove sections 5(1) and 6(4) by section 57 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013. This amendment removed the word 'insulting' from the two sections with effect from 1 February 2014.  Police have been advised on changes in operation.




Unless Muslims in England, immigrants and native born, are ready to accept the mores of this country and learn a degree of tolerance that the other monotheistic religions with their various branches from high church to low, from orthodox to reform,  encompass I fear increasing levels of confrontation.  Lord Woolf`s remarks serve only to encourage the extreme right wing who seize on such comments to ferment their own brand of confrontation.  Such lordly myopia serves his fellow citizens of all faiths and none little benefit; indeed he has to a degree fanned the flames of a combustible situation. 

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