The liberal democratic liberties that hesitantly grew and then finally flourished across the UK and Europe over the past couple of centuries are under assault as never before. The continent is run by an unelected, interfering and financially incompetent (or corrupt) Commission that, as Ireland has found out, is utterly cynical about the will of the electorate expressed through the ballot box; the clout of the UK’s ancient Mother of Parliaments – sunk in the quagmire of the expenses scandal – has arguably never been lower; and the yawning gap of mutual incomprehension between the governing classes and ordinary people is feeding the growth of hard-line extremism on all sides, as the May election of two BNP MEPs and the recent UAF-encouraged Muslim violence at Harrow mosque (here) demonstrate. 

One by one – and despite the European Convention on Human Rights and associated national legislation – the lights of our liberties and freedoms are being extinguished in the name of our risk-avoiding, hurt-preventing, initiative-curtailing, target-worshipping, bureaucratic-meddling, money-mad, politically-correct, aggressively-atheist nanny state, which itself is only one stop away from a police state.

mr-mrs-volgelenzangAnd the downhill slide towards this police state took a defining step forward two weeks ago when a Christian couple, Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, were arrested following a heated argument about religion in front of guests in the restaurant of their nine-bedroom private hotel in Aintree, Liverpool. No violence took place, no mayhem ensued; but one Muslim participant reckoned her religious sensibilities had been insulted and went to the police. Plod knocked on the hotel door – and now the Vogelenzangs have been remanded on bail and await trial under the Public Order Act 1986, a measure designed to stop violence and disorder on the streets.

The details will come out during the court case in December, but it’s already clear that the robust but peaceful expression of religious beliefs and opinions in a semi-private place in England in 2009 is now subject to police intervention and arrest. Henry Porter in the Guardian called the decision to prosecute ‘daft’ (here). Others reckon the police action is ‘heavy-handed’. Actually it is much worse than that; it is deeply deeply ominous. The mind-set and management ethos of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now become so Orwellian and Stasi-like that in my view we have crossed the anti-democratic Rubicon. The chilling effect of this prosecution – whether it succeeds or not – on free speech is momentous and we are now but a few steps from Gestapo knocks on the door in the dead of night for anyone who expresses peaceful but apparently contentious, odious, offensive or politically incorrect views especially, as in this case, about Islam.

Of course the normal courtesies of hospitality should have restrained the Vogelenzangs from arguing with one of their guests, and I am not surprised that the local hospital is no longer sending outpatients to stay at the hotel. I wouldn’t either. But that does not justify police arrest or the CPS decision to prosecute.

To paraphrase George Orwell, ‘Liberty, if it means anything, means the right to offend’. By being dragged into court the Volgelenzangs have already been penalised for exercising that right and by extension, as fellow citizens, so have we. And they may yet receive a substantial fine and a criminal record.

What is to be done? First, the Vogelenzangs’ fight is our fight so I’m sending £100 to their legal defence fund run by the Christian Institute (here).

Second, we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them. I therefore intend to repeat their opinions – only more so – on this blogsite with a view to sharing a police cell and court appearance with them.

The exact nature of their offending views is open to dispute as the unnamed Muslim lady claims Ben Vogelenzang called the founder of Islam, Muhammad, a ‘warlord’ – but he denies this. However it seems agreed that Sharon described the hijab (Islamic headscarf) as a form of ‘bondage’ (here).

Now I certainly admire Muhammad as one of the great figures of history, up there with Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and King David (of Goliath fame, who established Jerusalem as Israel’s capital around 1,000 BC). And the modesty of much Islamic dress is to be applauded.

But it is also valid to see Muhammad – like other historical greats – as a very flawed figure. And the niqab (Islamic face-veil) is as controversial in the UK as in France (here).

So I hope my Muslim friends and acquaintances (that especially includes you Abdul, Asif, Mohammed, Humera, Tahire, Manish, Irfan and Yaqoob) will forgive me now as I write about both Muhammad’s flaws and Islamic dress in a way they may find offensive. But I need to do so (a) primarily in order to assert my right to freedom of speech, and (b) secondarily to get myself nicked so that I can stand alongside the Vogelenzangs.

“Muhammad was a warlord, a paedophile and a vindictive murderer, and the niqab is a hostile anti-social sign of female subjection which should be banned from public places.”

There, I’ve done it. Now if someone would kindly take a copy of this post to the police, please also tell them they can obtain my address via Newham town hall. I’ll await with anticipation the nocturnal knock on my door.

Ben and Sharon, wait for me. I’m on my way!

11 Responses to “Arrest Me Too!”

  1. Kinana Says:

    I am Spartacus!

    I support your right to ‘to freedom of speech.’

    If you are arrested you will not be alone.

    Worse lies have been said about Jesus and what you say about Mohammed is more than arguably true — or is at least fair comment based solely on Islamic sources.

    Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang will be pleased to read your article and have your support.

  2. Tahire Says:

    This blog like others you have posted is there to stir up tensions between Muslims and Christians in East London, rather then finding a genuine way forward Alan you like to stir up rivalries against people for your own political ends. Your not only a bad politician but also a bad Christian who feels that hurting the feelings of Muslims will get you closer to Jesus

    well Jesus said “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32″

    Alan I think you should practice what you preach and not foolishly follow something that will make you look silly

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.- Matthew 7:21″

    So I urge the Muslims not to respond to Alan’s foolishness he actually does not know what he does, his just not very clever.

    As for freedom of speech, well, a few years back you was very offended by a Youtube Video, being offensive is not funny it hurts and its against any religion including yours

    Alan is not particularly a bad man, like others politicians (maybe calling him a politician is a overstatement ) he feels he needs to push his political career to a place people can take him seriously, but he unthinkingly makes comments which he regrets afterwards.

    Tahire

  3. Kinana Says:

    Tahire

    Could you help me out a bit and say which comments he has made which you think he will regret or are inaccurate?

    thanks

  4. Richard Londonbourne Says:

    Tahire, Britain is not a Muslim country. We enjoy freedom to criticise religion and religious leaders for 500 years. British people have fought and died to protect this right and we are not going to give it away. Get used to this simple fact or go and live in a Muslim country where your precious sensitivities will not be hurt.

  5. Ex-Muslim Says:

    well Jesus said “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32″

    Christ also said that he was “The Way, The Truth and The Light”…a position that precludes any possiblity of him ever needing an Abrahamic successor…

    Islam is a lie so fraught with defects and flaws that it cannot withstand even the most superficial scrutiny, and so must always be placed beyond the reach of any criticism.

    The absolutely pathetic state of the Islamic world, it’s poverty, corruption and almost complete intellectual stagnation attest to that lie.

    Islam took what were for millenia the most prosperous, enlightened and literate regions of the globe -Egypt, The Fertile Crescent, Persia, Byzance and North Africa- and in only a few centuries “transformed” them into irrelevant, stagnant backwaters.

  6. GTO Says:

    Freedom is so important, but every country, every nation has his own habit and belief, so conflict always exist, unless different believes come together well.

    But no one knows the future, what will happen?

    Hope peace in every aspect.

  7. Nazam Says:

    Richard,

    By demonizing a faith you demonize a people. That’s why we have laws to prevent something like the Holocaust from ever happening again. Yes, why we all value freedom of speech we also try not to stereotype and demonize people who are different from us.

  8. Adam Says:

    Well said Alan. It’s time people dusted off their history books and read about the roots of Islam. They would then not find Muslim terrorists so surprising.

  9. Kinana Says:

    to bring this story to a close read here

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1234509/Hoteliers-cleared-insulting-Muslim-guest-wearing-hijab-breakfast.html?ITO=1490#ixzz0ZDau9RUE

    the couple were cleared of any offense.
    the judge ruled in favour of freedom of speech – long may it last!

  10. Meet Alan Craig » Blog Archive » “They Will Persecute You Also” Says:

    [...] think-tank Civitas (here) and dedicated to Ben and Sharon Volgelenzang (see my previous post here) highlights how recent religious hatred legislation has been used in an “at best arbitrary and at [...]

  11. Meet Alan Craig » Blog Archive » So Tablighi Jamaat Doesn’t Do Politics? Says:

    [...] “very untrue, bad and offensive things” I have written about Islam’s Prophet on this blog (here). The flyer urged electors to vote Labour “as they have the best chance of getting rid of Alan [...]

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