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£50 Fine for Poppy Burning Twit Causes Outbreak of Hypocrisy

£50 Fine for Poppy Burning Twit Causes Outbreak of Hypocrisy

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday March 08 2011

  The fine of £50 handed to Emdadur Choudhury, one of the men who burnt poppies on Remembrance Day last year, has received widespread attention both from national (Daily Mail, Telegraph, Daily Express, Daily Star, the Guardian) and local media (Evening Standard, East London Advertiser, Liverpool Echo, the Metro) up and down the country. There are striking differences between the reports.

The reports state that Choudhury was found guilty of a “calculated and deliberate insult to the war dead and everyone who mourns them” when he burned two large plastic poppies in a two-minute silence on 11th November 2010.

Reports from the Guardian and local media have focused primarily on the comments of district judge Howard Riddle on the significance of the poppy and the two-minute silence in “remembering those who have died in the service of their country”, as a backdrop to why the act of burning poppies would be considered insulting.

The DM, Telegraph, Daily Express and DS, however have decided to focus on the sentence itself. For example, the Telegraph quotes the words of Shaun Rusling, vice chairman of the National Gulf War Veterans and Families Association, and Khalid Mahmood:

Shaun Rusling, said: “This fine is derisory. I am frankly appalled. These soldiers have given the ultimate sacrifice and you would think such actions would merit more than a £50 fine. if someone had burned a Koran outside a mosque they would be calling for someone to be put to death.”

“Muslim Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said the sentence was inadequate.

“He said: ‘We don’t take it seriously enough, he hurt a lot of people. I really don’t think it is acceptable to protest against people who have died for their country.’”

An editorial from the Daily Express adds:

“Britain remains a tolerant society with few restrictions on freedom of expression.”

“…if Choudhury’s behaviour outraged public decency and provoked disorder – which it did – then what can be said for a criminal justice system that considers a paltry £50 fine sufficient punishment?”

“Tolerance has become weakness and until the firmest resolve is regained to tackle them, the Islamic extremists in our midst will continue to make advances that will surely result in social conflict on a far greater scale than occurred outside the Royal Albert Hall last November.”

It is without question that the act committed by Choudhury and his fellow goons from ‘Muslims Against Crusaders’ was timed to cause the maximum hurt and offence. Their act, amplified by the media coverage it received, not only caused offence but also instigated a backlash against the Muslim community. For both reasons, they must be condemned.

It is against this backdrop of the offence caused to communities and the tolerance which supposedly allows such inflammatory views to “make advances” and “cause potential for social conflict” that we should highlight another story (published yesterday): ‘Dagenham racist spared jail.’

The Barking and Dagenham Post reported:

“A Dagenham man who told an Asian Labour canvasser to vote for the British National Party because they would ‘send you back to where you came from’ was spared jail today.

“Jamie Sprought, 21, also told British-born Denis Fernando: ‘Our forefathers were from here, yours are not’, in Dagenham, during the run-up to last year’s general election.

“The shaven-headed yob later hurled further abuse at Mr Fernando who had been trying to deliver a Labour party leaflet to Sprought’s mother Pamela at their Bromhall Road home.

“But Judge Louise Kamill spared jobless Sprought, of Bromhall Road, jail and handed him 100 hours of unpaid work after he was convicted by jurors of causing racially aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress, following a two-day trial.”

Add to this another example – that of David Jared Evans, who threatened to burn down a mosque in Wrexham and meted out a “torrent of disgraceful abuse” at Muslims outside the mosque.

Sprought was sentenced to 100 hours of unpaid work for his racist abuse and Evans was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work for his insults and threats.

Do the acts and comments of these individuals not warrant the same level of outrage? Are their views any less likely to advance social conflict? If the answer is yes, where is the widespread media coverage and condemnation of these individuals and their sentences?


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