Christians face trial for criticising Islam
Yet they were arrested and charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and Section 31 (1) (c) and (5) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, for using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words’ that were ‘religiously aggravated’. They face prosecution for defending the Christian faith and for criticising Islam. A criminal trial has been set for 8th and 9th December at Liverpool Magistrates' Court. If convicted, they face a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record.
It transpires that a Muslim guest complained that she was offended by comments allegedly made on 20th March, during a discussion about whether Jesus is the Son of God or just a minor prophet of Islam. Although the facts are disputed, the Muslim says that Mohammed was referred to as a ‘warlord’ and that Islamic dress for women is ‘a form of bondage’.
As a result, a major client of the couple's hotel has ceased referring guests because of the incident. This has led to an 80 per cent drop in the hotel's income, leaving the couple in financial difficulty. They have been forced to lay off staff and run the nine-bedroom hotel by themselves, leaving them exhausted and demoralised. Their business may now fail altogether.
In another country, such economic persecution might be termed ‘cleansing’.
Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang say that when the Muslim woman in question realised they were Christians, she kept trying to provoke them and start arguments about religion. They were wary of her and kept trying to change the subject but were always measured in tone and reasonable in the defence of their faith. They deny that they were threatening, abusive or insulting. Then, on her final day in the hotel, the Muslim woman emerged from her room in a burkha and started ranting at them about their Christian beliefs in an abusive and insulting fashion.
Nothing provocative there, of course. No crime was committed. No prosecution will ensue. One cannot say that Mohammed was a ‘warlord’, but one can say that Jesus was ‘only a prophet’ and insist that he was not crucified.
Both assertions may be offensive to adherents of the respective religions.
The problem is that the Quar’an and Hadith rather confirm that Mohammed was indeed a warlord. The Bible states that Jesus was rather more than a prophet and was most certainly crucified.
This case raises very important issues of religious liberty. It only ever seems to be Christians who suffer unjust treatment because of their faith. Time and again, public bodies in particular misapply the law in a way that seems to sideline Christianity more than any other faith.
The purpose of the Public Order Act is to prevent violence, yobbish abuse or disorder. Is it designed to protect the peace and security of the realm; to guard private property and people’s safety. But it is increasingly being used by the police in cases where someone complains about being ‘offended’, the result of which is that they enforce the ideas and beliefs of a self-regarding and dogmatic elite.
It is bizarre that it should be used as a result of a private conversation in which personal views are expressed.
Could a schoolteacher now be prosecuted for suggesting that Mohammed was a warlord?
Could a Protestant be arrested for saying the Pope's a Catholic?
The police have a legal duty under the Human Rights Act to defend free speech, but this is apparently subsumed to their overriding concern to appease religious minorities, and one minority in particular.
The Public Order Act of 1986 was passed by Parliament to control public processions and assemblies and to deter manifestations of racial hatred. The Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 was similarly designed to prevent racial harassment.
Cranmer has said this a million times: Islam is not a race. It is a religio-political construct expounding a doctrine of life in complete submission to the will and purposes of Allah, mediated by the teachings and actions of Mohammed who is believed to be a prophet, and who fought the indigenous tribes of Mecca for eight years, finally defeating them with his 10,000 strong army. He told his followers to make war on non-Muslims (9:5,29). Sura 9 was one of the last Suras given by Muhammad. Initially, when Mohammed's forces were weak, he ordered his followers to form treaties and engage in diplomacy. When they had attained positions of power and strength, he ordered them to spread Islam by force. Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman continued his wars of aggression. One of Mohammad’s actions includes the massacre of approximately 800 Jewish male captives (Sura 33:26).
Ergo, he was a 'warlord'.
In the United Kingdom, one is at perfect liberty to say this or to disagree with it.
Some Muslim women may wear the hijab or burkha out of choice, but very many indeed are obliged to do so through domestic oppression or community expectation. Some Muslim men hold literally to the exhortation of Sura 4:34, which speaks of the treatment of women: 'As those you fear may be rebellious, admonish, banish them to their couches, and beat them.'
And Muslim women may indeed suffer such abuse if their hair, necks or faces are seen by men other than their family members.
Ergo, it may be perceived by women in particular as a 'form of bondage'.
It is curious indeed that the Crown Prosecution Service has seen fit to bring this case, when they are so utterly and inadequately silent on the persecution, threats, abuse or insults increasingly being borne by Christians.
Cranmer awaits a knock on the door.