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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Wednesday, 13 April 2016
APPOINTMENT TO THE LAY BENCH AND WHAT BRITISH MUSLIMS REALLY THINK
Judicial statistics published by the MOJ have for some years categorised office holders by "ethnicity" but not by religion and for a century or more religion or lack of has had no bearing on appointment. This admirable procedure was IMHO based upon the simple acceptance that only proven qualification and ability were necessary for interrogation as to suitability although inquiry until recently was made of political preference or membership of a masonic lodge. In my own application to the Bench I deliberately omitted answering those two questions. My form was returned with an accompanying letter informing me that unless the questions were answered my application would be halted there and then. I returned the form duly completed to the satisfaction of the Appointments Committee. The core of the survey mentioned above is that eg 39% of respondents agreed that wives should always obey their husbands, 31% believe that it is acceptable for a British Muslim to have more than one wife, 23% support the introduction of Sharia law in Muslim dominated areas, 52% believe homosexual acts should be illegal. With increasing concern within the Labour Party over anti- semitism is it a coincidence that the survey revealed that more than a quarter of respondents felt Jews were “responsible for most wars” compared to a 6 per cent average across the UK while almost four in ten felt Jews had “too much control over global affairs,” compared to a ten per cent average over the general population?
We are constantly informed that magistrates are or should be representative of their communities. That being the case, of the 4.6% of magistrates who are self classified as "Asian" ie about 900, many hundreds must be assumed as being Muslim.
Richard Page ex J.P. is appealing against his removal from the magistracy. Whether or not he succeeds the issue of particular religious belief being compatible or not with sitting as a magistrate must be faced especially in the light of the survey. Of course it is not unlikely that the cry of "racist" will be heard but this is nothing to do with race. If a Christian acting on his belief re the suitability of same sex couples` suitability for adopting a child is chastised we are IMHO faced with the prospect of making inquiry of all applicants whether they hold beliefs that would preclude their being able to fulfil the judicial oath. That Muslims generally according to that survey are more likely to hold opinions contrary to their more secular and/or free thinking non Muslim neighbours is a factor that cannot be ignored especially when such opinions are more suited to the 19th rather than the 21st century. It is highly likely that Muslim representative organisations will seek to discredit this survey but there have been others including a previous Ch4 Dispatches programme with not dissimilar findings. Until enough secular living Muslims and/or those who have an enlightened attitude to their religion feel confident enough to speak out and interpret their religion for modern living, established Muslim spokesmen are liable to increase rather than decrease any prevailing or anticipated inter communal tensions.