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Operation Nehemiah: News Update #229

14 April 2016

UK: leading advocate of multiculturalism admits he got it wrong on Islam

Trevor Phillips, a former leading advocate of multiculturalism has admitted in a Channel 4 TV programme “What British Muslims really think” that he got “almost everything wrong” on Muslim integration. In an article for the Sunday Times ahead of the programme Mr Phillips said a face to face opinion survey commissioned for the programme showed that more than eight out of ten Muslims say they are happy living in Britain and feel British. However, it also showed that:

  • One in five Muslims in Britain never enter a non-Muslim house.
  • 39 percent of Muslims, male and female, say a woman should always obey her husband.
  • 31 percent of British Muslims support the right of a man to have more than one wife.
  • 23 percent of Muslims support having areas of Britain under shari‘a law rather than British law.

Warning that Britain was facing the growth of a nation within a nation he said:  

“Oddly, the biggest obstacles we now face in addressing the growth of this nation-within-a-nation are not created by British Muslims themselves. Many of our (distinctly un-diverse) elite political and media classes simply refuse to acknowledge the truth. Any undesirable behaviours are attributed to poverty and alienation. Backing for violent extremism must be the fault of the Americans. Oppression of women is a cultural trait that will fade with time, nothing to do with the true face of Islam.”

Comment: For many years, long before the events of 9/11 or 7/7 Barnabas Fund has been a lone voice in the wilderness warning of this. Barnabas Fund’s founder Patrick Sookhdeo suffered years of ridicule and abuse for pointing out both the dangers of radical Islam in the West as well as the appalling treatment of Christians in many Muslim majority contexts. However, his books such as Faith, Power and Territory – about the Islamisation of Britain and Global Jihad say much of what those such as Trevor Phillips are now saying. Although they also provide the specific detailed evidence explaining why so many Muslims are not only failing to integrate, but actually seeking to create specifically Islamic societies in the West.

In the 1970s and 80s multiculturalism was viewed as a way of dealing with the racism experienced by many ethnic minorities in the West. However, in promoting cultural diversity it failed to distinguish between the outer layers of culture, such as food, clothing and music and the deeper underlying values. It also tended to make fundamentally humanistic assumptions that all religions were equally “valid”. Consequently, it both rejected the Judaeo-Christian values that underpinned much of society and at the same time naively viewed Islam in all its diversity as posing no threat. One aspect of this was the introduction of the term Islamophobia to public policy in the UK largely as a result of a report published twenty years ago by the Runneymede Trust which Trevor Phillips then chaired. Significantly, it did not talk of Muslimophobia which might legitimately protect Muslims from abuse and discrimination, but Islamophobia, seeking to protect Islam itself from any criticism. In doing so it played into the hands of those wanting to align British law with shari‘a, for which any criticism of either Muhammad or even Islam itself is deemed to be one of the most serious offences. In fact, in December 2005 the Organisation for Islamic Co-operation (OIC) launched a 10 years strategy to persuade all countries to criminalise ‘Islamophobia’.

It is welcome that Trevor Phillips has now recognised that however, well intentioned, the policies he and others advocated have helped create enormous problems. He has rightly pointed out that the part of the problem has been and continues to be the naïve head in the sand approach of many liberal minded members of the political and media elite who still refuse to recognise that political Islam is incompatible with western society. To illustrate the extent of this problems one only ahs to look at the media reaction to Trevor Phillips comments. For example, a major British newspaper, the Independent responded to the survey results by describing them as "dangerous and wrong". The person they allowed to write this article was oddly enough the director of information at the OIC…


Germany: Turkey threatens freedom of speech in Germany – the latest!

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkell has been asked by Turkey to extradite a popular German comedian who composed a poem about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mrs Merkell is now in a tight corner because the German public opinion is strongly against any such extradition seeing it as an issue of free speech, while failure to do so could threaten the refugee deal Mrs Merkel recently negotiated with Turkey. This is the latest twist in a saga we reported on two weeks ago. The situation arose after German TV broadcast a song mocking President Erdogan for the abuses of human rights and police brutality against people exercising freedom of speech in Turkey. The Turkish government summoned the German ambassador and lodged a formal complaint, which was widely seen in Germany as an attack on free speech. In response to this the comedian produced a bawdy poem which he claimed was intended to show the difference between satire and slander. Mrs Merkell tried to calm the situation by publicly condemning the poem. However, the Turkish government has now formally told Germany that it wishes to press charges against the comedian under a rarely used German law that forbids insulting foreign heads of state.

Comment: There is a real problem in Turkey with the government of Recep Tayiyip Erdogan. It is increasingly authoritarian, locking up journalists, seizing control of opposition newspapers, ordering mass seizures of private property, and – as we report in this week’s Persecution Update – has just seized control of six churches in south eastern Turkey. Its police brutally beat up women’s rights demonstrators and other advocates of free speech – which was the subject of the song and video originally aired on German TV. It arrests citizens who make even moderate criticisms of the Turkish President – an essential freedom in any democracy – with hundreds of people having been arrested on such charges. It is also pursuing an Islamist agenda and for too long appeared to have, at best, an ambivalent attitude to Islamic State which exists beyond its eastern border with Syria. For Germany to suggest that such a country should be fast tracked into membership of the EU demonstrates the desperation of European leaders to deal with the migrant crisis. Yet it is a desperation that Erdogan is now exploiting to its full measure, seeking to restrict free speech in Germany in a similar manner to the way it is restricted in Turkey. Freedom of speech also requires responsibility and there must be limits to public decency. However, the saga raises a far deeper question that Mrs Merkell and other EU leaders urgently need to address. Namely, if Turkey is already demanding restrictions freedom of speech in EU countries before it even becomes a member of the EU, how safe will freedom of religion and other freedoms be if it becomes a full voting members of the EU?


UK: Press gag reveals deeper issue about the redefinition of marriage

The British press have been tying themselves up in knots over a court injunction that bans the media from naming what has been described as “a married couple” involved in a “threesome”. The press have focused on the fact that the injunction only applies to media outlets in England and Wales, which has led to a Scottish newspaper and US media naming those concerned. However, what the press have missed is that the whole saga points to a much deeper issue about the redefinition of marriage.

Comment: Until 1836 the only people in England who could legally conduct marriages were Church of England ministers. The Marriage Act passed that year not only extended this to non-Conformists and Roman Catholics, it also allowed marriage to take place without any religious ceremony in town halls. However, crucially it kept the basic Christian definition of marriage as a public commitment of lifelong faithfulness and love between a man and a woman. This was despite the fact that many leading public figures of that era had what would be described today as “more complicated” family relationships. For example, only a generation earlier England’s naval hero Lord Nelson had openly lived together with both his mistress and her husband under the same roof.

However, for the last ten years or so many countries in the western world have come under strong pressure to redefine marriage. Governments now talk about “adult couple relationships” dropping both the importance of it being between a man and a woman, the importance of it being a public act and the importance of lifelong commitment. Now there is pressure not only to redefine marriage in terms of gender, but also in relation to the number of people involved. For example, in 2005 the Netherlands legalised civil partnerships between more than two people, while in the 2015 General Election the leader of the UK’s Green Party told a Pink News reader that she was open to considering three way marriages and civil partnerships.



UK: Sheffield University turns the clock back two centuries on academic and religious freedom by expelling a student for quoting the Bible on Facebook

Felix Ngole has lost his appeal against being expelled from Sheffield University as a result of posting a statement on Facebook opposing the redefinition of marriage. Felix, was in the second year of a two year MA course leading to a professional qualification in social work when someone complained to the university about a Facebook post on sexual ethics in which he had quoted the Bible. The Facebook page was not freely accessible, but only visible to his ‘friends’. The university expelled him telling him that that his post “may have caused offence to some individuals” and that he had “transgressed boundaries which are not deemed appropriate for someone entering the social work profession”. Felix appealed against the decision saying: "Like every other student at university I use social media to communicate and express personal views. In my Facebook posts in question, I simply expressed support for the biblical view of marriage and sexuality. I did not say that everyone has to agree with me. However, I was reported to the university for these views and they unilaterally decided to end my course." He added: "In so doing, they ended my training for my chosen vocation in life." However, the university appeals committee has now not only rejected his appeal, but compounded its earlier intolerance of historic Christian beliefs by stating that Felix had not “offered any insight or reflection” on the “potential impact” of postings. Felix will now have to take legal action through the courts simply to complete his university course.

Comment: Across the world Barnabas Fund supports victims of persecution and discrimination. In countries such as Pakistan Christians are routinely denied access to university, in Malaysia there has long been a history of non-Muslims being required to achieve significantly higher grades to gain access to university courses. It is therefore profoundly disturbing to see Christians being victimised and discriminated against in a UK university. Sheffield University failed significantly in several respects. First, it is guilty of intolerance, social work is a profession that supposedly prides itself on its tolerance of diversity, yet the Social Work department at Sheffield have failed to understand the most basic aspect of tolerance – that you only need tolerate people you disagree with. As well as being guilty of intolerance and religious discrimination they have also displayed a woeful lack of understanding of academic and religious freedom. More than two centuries ago the UK abolished the requirement for people to publicly subscribe to certain beliefs in order to enter various professions. Sheffield University might care to consult its History department about for example the 1719 repeal of the Schism Act which allowed anyone to become a teacher without subscribing to particular beliefs, or the 1791 Catholic Relief Act which similarly allowed anyone to become a lawyer, or the 1828 Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts allowing anyone to become a councillor or mayor regardless of their beliefs. More specifically they should consider the 1871 repeal of the University Tests Acts which opened the door not merely for student places, but also all academic posts in universities to be held by anyone regardless of their beliefs. In short, Sheffield University have turned the clock back on both academic freedom and freedom of religion to at least early Victorian times, if not considerably earlier. In doing so they have created a situation of religious discrimination and intolerance that is not wholly dissimilar to that faced by Christians in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, where Christians can be denied access to higher education simply because of their Christian beliefs.


NZ: Charities board seeks to deregister pro family charity for ideological reasons

Family First a New Zealand organisation which highlights research and campaigns to support the traditional family is facing repeated attempts to remove its charitable status. In the latest twist the Charities Board has served a notice saying it intends to deregister the organisation. The notice says;

“(W)e do not consider that the Trust continues to qualify for registration as it has an independent purpose to promote and protect the traditional family and this is not charitable.”

This is despite a decision made in the Wellington High Court in 2015 to allow Family First’s appeal against an earlier attempt by the Charities Board to deregister them. Then the judge there recognised the strength of Family First’s argument that its advocacy for the concept

 “…of the traditional family is analogous to organisations that have advocated for the ‘mental and moral improvement’ of society.… Members of the Charities Board may personally disagree with the views of Family First, but at the same time recognise there is a legitimate analogy between its role and those organisations that have been recognised as charities.”

Now it appears that the Charities Board want to effectively ignore the court ruling on ideological grounds and use the high cost of legal action to force Family First to simply give up. Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ said:

“The (Charities) Board may hope that rather than face another round in the High Court, Family First will fold its tent and quietly retreat. Once again, supporters of Family First will have to dig deep to legally defend the organisation’s existence.”

He added:

“It continues to disturb us that any charity that speaks up on issues which are deemed incorrect by the political elite are in danger of being penalised. An easy way for opponents of a point of view is for them to use the Charities Board to muzzle them. Family First’s traditional view of marriage being one man and one woman was cited as one of the reasons for the earlier attempts at deregistration.”

Comment: This case highlights one of the underlying problems facing many Christian organisations n the West. This is that a significant number of senior public sector appointments have become dominated by people who not only hold secular-humanist beliefs, but refuse to accept the validity of any other beliefs, including historic Judaeo-Christian beliefs which have been foundational to the development of a free society in the West. This particularly affects public sector bodies in the fields of charity regulation, human rights and equality and the professional standards bodies for vocations relating to health and social care. Often these bodies are QANGOs (Quasi Autonomous National Governmental Organisations) which means that although they receive their funding from taxpayers, they are not even directly under the control of government ministers, giving their senior executives huge power but little public accountability. Situations such as that being faced by Family First illustrate the potential for senior staff in such organisations to abuse their positions in attempts to impose their own belief systems on wider society. It is imperative that well qualified Christians put themselves forward for appointment to the boards of such organisations as well as getting involved as individuals in politics in order to bring about greater transparency and social justice in such organisations.