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Friday, 23 July 2010

Review Article: ‘A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today’, Jon Gower Davies, Civitas, London, 2010.

The writing of this slim volume was prompted by the trial of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, two Liverpool hoteliers who although exonerated of the charge brought against them by a malign Muslim convert, had their business ruined and their lives turned upside down. The zeal with which the case was taken up and prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is illustrative not only of the British state’s desire to generate and prosecute thought criminals, but also of its abandonment of any pretext of treating its citizens as equal before the law. Some citizens - Muslim ones in particular - have become more equal than others.

Davies, a retired senior academic from the University of Newcastle, uses the misfortunes of the Vogelenzangs to highlight how the official writ of multiculturalism has come to pervert our justice system and to undermine the traditional free and easy public discussion of religion and irreligion. Where once lively debate and scurrilous humour were the rule, now a cold deadening silence and sense of unease has descended thanks to the combined impact of a new category of religious ‘hate’ crimes created by the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act; the ‘Religious Hatred’ section of the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, and a vociferous and threatening Muslim lobby. People have become apprehensive about debating or poking fun at one particular religion – Islam – both because of the special legal status that it and its followers have been accorded, and because of the willingness of a significant minority of Muslims to either threaten critics with violence or bring the force of ‘hate’ legislation to bear upon freethinkers and the followers of other religions.

Who would have thought only 30 or 40 years ago that it would have been possible for the Vogelenzangs to have suffered as they did (and still do) simply because they ventured to hold a conversation with a Muslim guest in which the latter claimed to have been ‘offended’ by what they said? Much of the Vogelenzangs’ business was provided by offering accommodation to a local hospital, and once the case had been brought the latter promptly cancelled its block bookings at the Bounty House Hotel. The merest hint of the hoteliers being associated with a ‘hate’ crime was sufficient for them to be punished, and for a primary source of their livelihood to vanish. To compound their hurt, the Vogelenzangs received hate mail and were pilloried by some commentators in the national press as Christian ‘nutters’. This was of course, completely unfair and unwarrented.

Davies himself draws attention to the testimony of another Muslim guest – a doctor – who unlike the zealous and brittle convert Mrs Tazi was able to see the Vogelenzangs for what they are: fundamentally decent people. Davies quotes the nameless doctor (his request for anonymity is in itself a sad indictment of our absence of freedom owing to fear of attack from Islamists and the politically correct establishment) as saying:
I am a Muslim and I know they are devout Christians but . . . I have never found them to be at all judgemental. They were as friendly with me as with any other guest. (Quoted in Davies, 2010: p. 17).
So, why were they brought to trial?

The answer to this last question lies in the corrosive influence of the Macpherson Report which has destroyed the notion of impartial justice, freedom of thought and expression and thereby liberty itself. The Vogelenzangs, concludes Davies, are victims of the UK’s equivalent of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a politically correct revolution in which transgressors of the diversity code must be prosecuted and made public examples of. Its differential application means that white Britons such are prosecuted for ‘hate’ crimes upon the flimsiest of grounds, whereas a Muslim is able to say the most inflammatory things in public before an audience whilst the police stand idly by, as in the case of one individual addressing a Muslim mob when Geert Wilders visited Parliament for a screening of Fitna:
The punishment in Islam for insulting the prophet is capital punishment. . . He [Wilders] should take a lesson from Theo van Gogh who took the punishment. . . We are here to teach this dog a lesson. (Quoted in Davies, 2010: p. 20).
To me, this sounds like an incitement to murder.

Another reason underpinning the differential application of the law and the manufacture of ‘hate’ crimes is the fact that the CPS sets itself a target of increasing the number of such crimes that it brings to court. Furthermore, the legal establishment is compromised by the existence of specific ethnic and confessional lobby groups which undermine its neutrality. Thus we have the National Black Crown Prosecution Association (NBCPA) and the National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) which pursue sectarian agendas specifically aimed at undermining the commonweal and at furthering the ‘interests’ of legally privileged minorities (i.e. those designated as collective ethnic and religious victims).

Davies’s short book is refreshing in its objective and analytical approach to the problems generated by the manufacture of a new category of ‘hate’ crime – religious ‘hate’ crime – which is a symptom of the irrational thought that lies at the heart of policy making and the political and media establishments in the UK today. Sadly, owing to the ascendancy of the Cameroons and their coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats, we are unlikely to see either the repeal of such laws or the removal of the deeply flawed thinking which has underpinned their development and introduction. ‘A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today’ can be purchased from Civitas at


  1. Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

  2. I prefer Shakespearean to biblical quotations myself and, admittedly, don't possess any urge to visit Babylon owing to it being: rather too dusty; excessively hot and in a highly volatile Muslim majority state. I find none of these factors overly appealing.


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