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Saturday 12 March 2011

Of Burning Qur’ans & Poppies: Andrew Ryan, Emdadur Choudhury and the British Justice System

Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society has this week written an editorial entitled ‘Is there really one law for all? We’re about to find out’ in which he highlights the case of Andrew Ryan who has been arrested and ‘charged with religiously aggravated harassment and theft of a Koran’. Worryingly, notes Sanderson, this charge carries a potential seven-year prison sentence.

Ryan bravely burned a Qur’an in Carlisle this January, and following on from Emdadur Choudhury’s £50 fine for his poppy burning escapade imposed for causing “harassment, harm or distress” under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, it remains to be seen whether Ryan will escape so lightly. Thanks to the egregious ‘religious hatred’ (sic) legislation passed by the last Labour Government, are we to expect that Ryan will be treated as leniently as Choudhury? If not, why not? If Ryan receives more than a £50 fine for his act of burning a Qur’an (an act which is perfectly innocuous, as the pages of a book feel no pain) this will confirm that Islam is being accorded an officially-sanctioned privileged role in our society and legal system. How should we react if Ryan is punished? I would suggest that we write to our MPs voicing our objection both to the sentence and to the legislation that enabled this charge to be brought. I would also urge you to burn a Qur’an (however, do ensure that it’s your own and not stolen).

Terry Sanderson notes:
Mr Ryan is due in court on 24th March and it will be very interesting to see whether the judge in his case also thinks that "shocking and offending people is sometimes a necessary part of effective protest."

Naturally, some people think the Koran is "sacred" while others think it is just a sheaf of papers bound together like any other book. Will Mr Ryan get a £50 fine for burning paper or will he get seven years for offending the sensitivities of Muslims?

Let's see if the law thinks there is "offence" and "religious offence" and then, perhaps, "offending Islam" – all of which might bring very different punishments. One law for all? We'll see.
One law for all? This is the nub of the question. One law there must be and one law only, and it must never be Shariah. Good luck to Mr Ryan in his forthcoming court appearance.


  1. That garbage-bag Emdadur Chaudry showed no remorse even after fining, laughing and repeating his wish for all British soldiers to burn in hell.

    There is already one law for them - OUR law!! and one law for us: sharia law!!

  2. "Will Mr Ryan get a £50 fine for burning paper or will he get seven years for offending the sensitivites of Muslims?"

    "In a democracy it is necessary that people should learn to endure having their sentiments outraged" - Bertrand Russell, 1940


  3. A fair observation Juniper.

    Thomas, I'm with you on the Russell quote. However, with respect to Choudhury and his mob, they should have burned their giant poppies elsewhere away from the commemoration.

  4. Yes that was 1940 I suppose. I don't think he could have predicted the pernicious ideology of multiculturalism - in many ways the antithesis of liberalism with its "it's ok to tolerate the intolerant if it's part of his culture" principle.

  5. If he gets a disproportionate punishment we should make damn sure to raise hell in response. Enough is enough.


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