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A defining moment

Posted by Richard Monday, February 06, 2006

"Has Police Hate Crime Unit gone deaf?": a good question from one source this morning and one which, in various ways, virtually all the newspapers are asking as they catch up with public sentiment and put precisely the question we asked on Saturday morning. This source continues:

A demonstration where Muslim extremists carried banners inciting murder – whilst Metropolitan Police stood by and did nothing. In fact, despite the clear and blatant law breaking the hundreds of Metropolitan Police officers present were clearly under orders not to arrest anyone – despite feelings to the contrary by many a good copper on duty!
Another comment puts precisely the feeling of undoubtedly millions of ordinary British people – Muslims and Christians alike:

…public order and confidence require stronger recognition that limits of acceptable protest and public discourse have been crossed. White racists are rightly arrested and charged for their hate campaigns. Muslim fanatics have to face similar severity for their no less repulsive actions. Ours is a tolerant way of life; we must be robust in defending it against its enemies.
Indicative of just how far the Metropolitan Police hierarchy have departed from the common norms of decency and tolerance, the two pieces quoted – indistinguishable in tone – are respectively from the British National Party and the Guardian leader.

Such is the growing outrage that even The Daily Mail manages to sound moderate and mainstream, its story leading with: "British Muslims ask: Why no arrests?"

The paper points out that moderate Muslims are leading demands for police to explain why no arrests were made from a hate-filled mob threatening murder and glorifying the July 7 attacks. Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Parliament of Britain, demanded action from the police. He said the demonstrators were "trying to incite others and to make criminal acts legitimate. The time has come to say enough is enough".

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "It seems to us some of their slogans were designed to incite violence and even to incite murder. The Muslim community will have no sympathy whatsoever for these individuals."

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the MCB's general secretary, said he was "disgusted utterly" by some of the placards on show, and Labour MP Shahid Malik, who is on the Home Affairs Select Committee, revealed that he wrote to Sir Ian Blair, head of the Metropolitan Police, on Friday calling for prosecutions. He said: "No matter how much offence cartoons may or may not cause, it can never justify violence."

The Guardian's lead story has No 10 criticising "unacceptable" cartoon protesters, with a statement that added: "The police should have our full support in any actions they may wish to take." You wish… What actions?

Even the Independent, which can’t quite bring itself to run an editorial, covers the controversy with a headline quote, stating "Police must bear down on extremist protesters", retailing that the some-time darling of the Left, Peter Hain has said that police should come down "heavily" on anti-cartoon protesters who broke the law. Hain has said the actions of some Muslims in London at the weekend had been "completely unacceptable and intolerable".

The Times presents an unwarranted note of optimism, claiming that "militants face arrest over July 7 placards", stating that "leaders of Muslim protests who threatened more terror attacks on Britain are to face questioning by police after a weekend of complaints over chants and placards praising the July 7 suicide bombers," not perhaps realising that many of the bearers of the more inflammatory placards had their faces concealed.

We do learn, however, that the man who made one of the most provocative protests - a demonstrator dressed as a suicide bomber, wearing a fake explosive belt - was "spoken to" by police on the day, but - can you believe this? -they did not take his name and address.

It is The Sun that identifies the man as Omar Khayam, 22, who has vowed "I would be prepared to wear that jacket again." The Sun calls him a "twisted" suicide bomber. But "amazingly" Khayam avers: "I've done nothing wrong," adding: "I wasn't trying to appear like a terrorist at all."

That is not how The Mail sees it. Its leader, headed, "police, protest and political correctness" notes that "the image was profoundly shocking. A young Muslim rigged out as a suicide bomber parades in London, a city which six months ago saw 52 innocent people murdered by real suicide bombers."

"Inflammatory?" it continues: "It could hardly be more so. An incitement to violence? Given the accompanying placards urging murder and mayhem, potentially… Yet the Metropolitan Police refused to intervene in this hate-filled protest."

Finally, in the print edition of The Telegraph (but not online), the headline reads: "Arrest pedlars of hate, police urged", with an editorial , echoing our own piece, noting:

We live in a country where you can be arrested for reciting the names of dead soldiers at the Cenotaph, heckling at a Labour Party conference or making slighting remarks about Osama bin Laden. We live in a country where a pensioner can be charged with "racially aggravated criminal damage" for scrawling "free speech for England" on a condemned wall.
It then makes the obvious point about the failure of the Plods to act, asking: "Might there be a connection between this cowardice and the contempt some Muslims feel for us?"

An answer is not needed. This is the defining point for us as a nation. Either we are a bunch of timorous whimps, who carry tolerance to the point of craven appeasement, or we are a country which has certain standards and values, which is determined to stand up for them.

So far, our establishment, and especially the police, has not risen to the challenge. But how the "great and the good" act in the next 48 hours will very much define whether we, the people, take matters into our own hands. The message is simple – lead or be trampled underfoot.

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