Scrabbling for justice
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This article is partly based on the excellent research undertaken by Graham Senior-Milne concerning the legal status of Islam in the UK. It is of particular relevance to a March 2018 case of Religiously Aggravated Harassment in Folkestone Magistrates Court concerning Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen of Britain First – and is also relevant to this March 2017 case in Southwark Crown Court where the author of this article was similarly charged.
It may well also be relevant to numerous other cases of Religiously Aggravated Harassment that have been prosecuted since the Racial and Religious Hatred Act came into force in 2006.
Having considered all the arguments from Graham Senior-Milne’s research, it becomes obvious that if only the legal system would take these arguments into account, and find in our favour (as it undoubtedly should) then in addition to quashing the above-mentioned cases of Religiously Aggravated Harassment, we would solve a great many of our problems with Islam overnight. Considering that Islam is shaping up to be the world’s most intractable problem of the 21st century, this would be a most worthwhile goal, and one arguably deserving of a great deal of attention.
The author of this article attempted to have the subject debated in court in 2017, but was informed that there was no way that any judge in the UK would entertain such an idea in the current political climate, which is a sad indictment of the craven and cowardly attitude of those in power who should – in an ideal world – uphold the law without fear or favour, compared to the current policies of appeasement in relation to the increasingly arrogant and aggressive followers of the most barbaric, backward, misogynistic and totalitarian ideology the world has ever seen.
The basic argument is as follows: Islam should not be considered a religion in UK law because it does not meet certain criteria laid down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which is currently the highest authority in our legal system.
In a case going back to 1982 it was stated that: in order to qualify for protection under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (Freedom of thought,conscience and religion), religious and philosophical beliefs must be “worthy of respect in a democratic society, be not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.”
If it is lawful to protect religious beliefs that meet these criteria, it must be unlawful to protect (via legal recognition) religious beliefs that do not meet these criteria, because such beliefs must either be not worthy of respect in a democratic society (Islam is unquestionably anti-democratic) and/or incompatible with human dignity (the dignity of women, for instance, who are mere chattels in Islam) and/or conflict with the fundamental rights of others (such as gays, including gay Muslims, who, under Sharia law, must be killed).
Following on from this, the logic would be that, in law, you cannot harass a person based on their religion if, in law, that person has no religion (what they believe is not recognized, in law, as a religion and therefore does not qualify for the legal protections that apply, in law, to religions recognized as such).
In other words, ‘religious harassment of a Muslim’ is, in UK law, a contradiction in terms; it is a legal impossibility.
While Islam has been treated as a religion in numerous cases over the years, this issue has never been argued before a court; courts have just assumed that Islam is a religion in law. In other words, there is no binding precedent on this issue.
This may sound surprising, but you can perhaps understand why courts would avoid this issue like the plague, even if it occurred to them that they might consider it in the first place. But courts do not hesitate to apply these criteria to other philosophical or religious beliefs – so why should Islam be exempt?
Consider the sheer idiocy of the proposition that a set of beliefs which are incompatible with the human rights of others (say, sacrificing babies on the first Tuesday of every month), which would not be protected under Article 9 ECHR as philosophical beliefs, would be protected simply because they are ‘religious beliefs’.
Would you protect Nazi beliefs if Nazis believed that Hitler was God? Of course not. Yet there is a direct parallel with Islam. Rampant antisemitism? Check. An inbuilt sense of supremacism? Check. A quest for worldwide domination by any means available, including fear, violence, intimidation and terror? Check again. It can easily be seen that Islam has much more in common with Nazism than it does with, say, Judaism or Christianity.
In another case from 2005, it was stated that “Article 9 embraces freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The atheist, the agnostic, and the sceptic are as much entitled to freedom to hold and manifest their beliefs as the theist. These beliefs are placed on an equal footing for the purpose of this guaranteed freedom. Thus, if its manifestation is to attract protection under Article 9 then a non-religious belief, as much as a religious belief, must satisfy the modest threshold requirements implicit in this Article.
With regard to the ‘modest threshold requirements’, these are stated at para. 23 (my emphasis): “Everyone, therefore, is entitled to hold whatever beliefs he wishes. But when questions of ‘manifestation’ arise, as they usually do in this type of case, a belief must satisfy some modest, objective minimum requirements. These threshold requirements are implicit in Article 9 of the European Convention and comparable guarantees in other human rights instruments.”
“The belief must be consistent with basic standards of human dignity or integrity. Manifestation of a religious belief, for instance, which involved subjecting others to torture or inhuman punishment would not qualify for protection.”
“The belief must relate to matters more than merely trivial. It must possess an adequate degree of seriousness and importance. As has been said, it must be a belief on a fundamental problem. With religious belief this requisite is readily satisfied.”
“The belief must also be coherent in the sense of being intelligible and capable of being understood. But again, too much should not be demanded in this regard. Typically, religion involves belief in the supernatural. It is not always susceptible to lucid exposition or, still less, rational justification. The language used is often the language of allegory, symbol and metaphor.”
“Depending on the subject matter, individuals cannot always be expected to express themselves with cogency or precision. Nor are an individual’s beliefs fixed and static. The beliefs of every individual are prone to change over his or her lifetime. Overall, these threshold requirements should not be set at a level which would deprive minority beliefs of the protection they are intended to have under the Convention.”
The bottom line is: A person can believe what ever he likes but his beliefs must meet the threshold requirements to be recognized and afforded protection in law.
It is true that Islam is given as an example of a religion in the explanatory notes to s.44 Equality Act 2006, but explanatory notes are not definitive of the meaning of an Act. Also, the explanatory notes state:
‘Section 44 defines what is meant by “religion or belief” for the purposes of this Act. Section 44(a) defines “religion” as “any religion”, a broad definition in line with the freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 9 of the ECHR.’
This makes it clear that, for the purposes of the Equality Act 2006, a religion can only be recognized and treated as a religion if it meets the criteria for Article 9 ECHR (because Article 9 ECHR does not recognize or protect beliefs or religions that do not meet the criteria specified in Campbell and Cosans v United Kingdom  ECHR 1).
In any event, even if a statute did provide that Islam is a religion, that statute would itself be unlawful under Article 9 ECHR, given that the ECHR (and the case law of the ECtHR, which interprets the ECHR) overrides domestic law, whether it be statute or other.
Let’s see how many people out there would support a Judicial Review (the legal mechanism whereby a senior judge would be obliged to consider the proposition that Islam should no longer be considered a religion in law. It is admittedly an expensive process, however if a mere 3000 people (out of our population of 60 million) were to pledge just £10 each then we could take the first step on the road to free our country from the tyranny of Islam. Please register your interest by leaving a message of support at the following email address: email@example.com. You don’t have to pledge any money as such at this stage – I am just trying to gauge the level of interest, and if we manage to get enough people expressing support then we could set up a proper fund-raising campaign.
We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do everything we can to help provide them with a better world, free from the threat of Islam, Sharia law, and all the other manifestations of this barbaric, misogynistic 7th-century totalitarian ideology. Please help us to meet this goal if you possibly can.
Tim Burton (with acknowledgements to Graham Senior-Milne)