| ||It's rare that one can find something to agree on with Rod Liddle (pictured) and his views of Muslim affairs, but in his column in this week's Sunday Times, he is right to argue against the ban on Islam4UK and defend the group's right to be ‘stupid, vile and obnoxious'. |
'I was in the Socialist Workers party (SWP) as a kid, selling papers on a Saturday morning outside Binns department store in Middlesbrough town centre. “Neither Washington nor Moscow but international socialism!” I would bellow, and sometimes catch sight of my mum and dad doing the weekly shop and hiding from me in abject mortification.
'This — the late Seventies — was a time of enormous industrial strife and political upheaval, rather more fraught than the time we live in now. Britain risked not just terrorist attacks (the SWP was, of course, pro-IRA) but nuclear annihilation (the SWP were for complete and immediate unilateral disarmament). There were genuine fears in some places about the threat to the stability of the country from the far left — and we were the most voluble and fastest-growing group on the left. I think we had about 6,000 members at the time.
'Nobody banned us, though. Nobody even thought about banning us. If such a thing had been suggested, the liberal intelligentsia would have been outraged and justifiably so (and we’d have been delighted). Nobody arrested us for demonstrating, either, even when we were terribly rude to the police and made piggy noises whenever we saw them. They just let us get on with it, the demos, and thought us unutterably stupid and of no account. They were right.'
'So why now, then, are we banning the radical Muslim organisation Islam4UK, and contemplating banning another extremist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir? Both are significantly smaller than the SWP was back then; both are constitutionally less committed to violence even if they are, verbally, no less obnoxious.
'In this battle of ideologies, we are pitted against an enemy swathed in religious and political certitude and we have only the ghost of a notion to sustain us: the notion of freedom of speech and freedom of thought. They don’t believe in that: so why should we give up the ghost?
'Banning Islam4UK is not only pointless because it will re-emerge again (perhaps as u.r.infidelcockroaches.com), but worse than that, it transgresses the very essence of what we believe in.'
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