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Rivers of blood?

The following is a guest post by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Hon. Chaplain of The Freedom Association.

The former Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks, has compared Jeremy Corbyn’s remarks about Jews to Enoch Powell’s so called “rivers of blood” speech of 20th April 1968. Dr Sacks says Corbyn’s words were “divisive and hateful like Powell’s speech” and he accuses both men of “…undermining the existence of an entire group of British citizens by depicting them as alien.”

It’s as well to start by dispensing with unnecessary difficulties based on a popular misrepresentation of what Powell actually said. He did not predict that rivers of blood would one day flow throughout Britain. He said, “Like the Roman, I seem to see the Tiber foaming with much blood.” He was quoting from Virgil’s Aeneid and in doing so was trying, as Virgil tried, to fulfil the first duty of statesmanship which is, as Powell said, “…to warn against avoidable evils.”

Unfortunately, there is a widespread tendency to regard the warning against a future evil as the cause of the evil. Explicitly, that is what Powell said:

Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: ‘If only,’ they love to think, ‘if only people wouldn't talk about it, it probably wouldn't happen."

The particular future evil which Powell had in mind was the prospect of civil strife caused by the refusal of an immigrant minority to integrate into traditional British society. Now where Powell was mistaken was in thinking that that this immigrant minority would consist of black West Indians. And let me emphasise, in this belief Powell was wrong – but not entirely. For there has come a day – the period in which we are now living – when there would be an immigrant minority in this country who declare repeatedly and vehemently that they are not willing to assimilate to our ways.

These people are Muslims.

A principal demand of Muslims in Britain is that they might be exempted from our legal system and operate their own jurisdiction through sharia courts. I remain puzzled about why Mrs May thinks this is a good idea. There are about eighty-five sharia courts operating in this country and I have been looking into the sorts of things that go on in them, including their contribution to the solving of marital disputes. In one such case, a Muslim woman in her 20s complained to the presiding cleric that her husband slaps her, regularly abuses her verbally and makes her wear the headscarf. He is also in the habit of going off to Tunisia where his wife believes he has contracted other marriages. She asked the cleric to grant her a divorce, but he only laughed and said, “Why ever did you marry such a man?”

In another court, a woman, aged about 30, complained that, at the age of 19, she had been coerced by her family into marrying an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh. Over the years, she said she had given her husband £38,000. He is now back in Bangladesh where he has taken a second wife. The woman asked for a divorce but the cleric refused and instead gave her a lecture on “the scientific benefits of polygamy.”

How compatible with British values were these typical procedures, Mrs May?

Let us move from particular cases to the general principles of sharia. First, a woman receives only half the value of any inheritance received by a man. Baroness Cox has pointed out that this is not compatible with the British Equality Act. In Islamic law a woman’s evidence is not regarded as being as trustworthy as that of a man.

Habitual theft after repeated warnings is punishable by amputation of a hand. The penalty for

adultery, fornication and premarital sex is 100 lashes. A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man and a Muslim man a Muslim woman. Neither may marry an atheist, agnostic or polytheist. How does that square with our laws protecting freedom of association? But a Muslim man may be married to up to four women at a time. If a Muslim rejects Islam – the sin of apostasy – the penalty is death, though often the judges show” leniency”! For example, in a recent case in Iran the apostate’s sentence was reduced to five years in prison. That’s a blatant abrogation of our right under British law to belong to whatever religion we choose.

It is shocking to learn that Islamic courts and clerics took no action in the widespread cases of the rape and sexual abuse of underage girls by Muslim gangs in Rochdale, Manchester and a dozen more places. The same Muslim authorities turn a blind eye to brutal “honour” punishments meted out to daughters who are said to have brought shame on a Muslim family by taking up with a non-Muslim boyfriend.

Theresa May and her cheerleader Professor Mona Siddiqui can talk until they are blue in the face about how good sharia is for Britain, but it is as plain as daylight that there are countless discrepancies which make Islamic law and practice utterly incompatible with our British values and way of life. But beyond all the discrepancies and abuses, there is a fundamental principle: it is impossible to operate two systems of law side by side and maintain that we are a national unity, one realm.

Despite all its other eccentricities, the European Court of Human Rights has got one thing right, at least when it says, “Sharia law is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy as set forth in the Convention.”

Sharia in Britain is a barbarism and licence for institutionalised anarchy. This anarchy was “the avoidable evil” against which Enoch Powell warned us. But the evil will remain inevitable so long as there is a large minority in this country who refuse to integrate into the conventions of our national life. Dr Sacks is mistaken: Enoch Powell and Jeremy Corbyn were not talking about the same thing.


All views expressed in contributions by named authors are their own and may not reflect the views of The Freedom Association.

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