Report 12 October 2006
Islam is a wicked, vicious faith and illiberal atheists are undermining Britain's religious heritage. These sentiments were expressed by BNP leader Nick Griffin and Dr John Sentamu, The Archbishop of York as reported within the British media this past week:
So what? Let them say what ever they want! This is part and parcel of the package called freedom of speech. An individuals faith is an individuals business. Allah is never going to be concerned by such none sense opinion anymore than God is going to lose sleep over atheists. As Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst system devised by the wit of man, except for all the others.”
Human beings can be wicked and vicious, not religion. However, British Home Secretary John Reid, Gordon Brown and the Lord Falconer are now considering whether race hate laws should be revised after a jury decided speeches by Mr Griffin and party activist Mark Collett in 2004 had not incited racial hatred.
Lib Dem MP Evan Harris said tighter laws could create "extremist martyrs" and argued there were "enough laws to deal with speech which actually incites to violence or other criminal offences, or which uses threatening language."
He added, "There must be room in a free society to allow even offensive criticism of religions and their followers."
It is surely the individuals right to decide for themselves and restricting these, however nonsensical opinions, will merely serve to drive negatives under ground where they may manifest into far less publicly manageable issues. We must keep public debate public for all our sakes. If you like, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Mind you, there is also the entertainment factor - these opinions can be so ridiculous they are, indeed, laughable!
In the same week international British musician Sir Elton John has called for all organised religion to be banned; that it lacks compassion and turns people into "hateful lemmings."
10 November marked the 68th anniversary of the death of Kemal Mustafa Atatürk, a solider and statesman who addressed the issue of religion and state government over half a century ago. Even Churchill, who experienced among his darkest hours at Galipolli as Ataturk defeated the Allied Forces attempt to divide the Turkish nation:
"Atatürk's death is not only a loss for the country, but for Europe is the greatest loss, he who saved Turkey in the war and who revived a new the Turkish nation after the war. The sincere tears shed after him by all classes of people is nothing other than an appropriate manifestation to this great hero and modern Turkey's Ata."
The religiously inclined Turkish government appear to side line Atatürk while the wider world remains largely oblivious to him ever existing. He laid out a set of values and principles that remain relevant to the global issues of 2006. The Turkish Daily News published a brief summary of his legacy: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=58744
After a not guilty verdict for Mr Griffin, he said: "What has just happened shows Tony Blair and the government toadies at the BBC that they can take our taxes but they cannot take our hearts, they cannot take our tongues and they cannot take our freedom."
Perhaps Mr. Griffin, but if you came to power I wonder how much freedom we would then be left with?
While The Archbishop of York calls for Christians to be more politically active to ensure their principles are not purged from society. Well Archbishop, your organisation certainly has centuries of experience in the art of purging. Why do so many "religious" people feel God is so powerless that that human agents are required to maintain the required moral discipline on earth? Earlier this week Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor launched a joint attack on what they called intolerant public atheism. In their foreword to Doing God: A Future for Faith in the Public Square, a report by new religious think tank Theos, they argued against limiting religion to the private sphere. They said campaigners against religion in public life had an "intolerant faith position."
The mind boggles! No wonder the military are time and again voted the most trusted organisation in Turkiye according the Turkish people. Will the EU ever understand the dynamics of Turkiye? Today it looks unlikely.
The speeches by BNP respresentatives were secretly filmed in a BBC documentary, The Secret Agent, broadcast a year earlier. In a statement, the BBC said its job was to bring matters of public interest to general attention. "In this case the matters raised in The Secret Agent were seen by a large section of the public and caused widespread concern," it read.
Perhaps Rupert Murdoch and Ahmet Ertegun could take a leaf from the BBC's book as they restructure Turkish channel TGRT. They are already creating a Woman's Channel, most apt for a nation where Atatürk gave women the right to vote before most EU nations. Perhaps a BBC type model could be considered as a welcome addition for public debate with the Republic of Turkiye.
Just a thought and in the meantime, here's raising a toast to you Atatürk Türkiye? Türkiyeah!
Arther C. Withernee, Correspondent for WEMW
Report 12 October 2006