Lord Pearson and a case of broken record
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Friday December 16 2016
Lord Pearson of Rannock, former leader of UKIP, was back on form this week with yet another tabled question about violence and Islam.
Lord Pearson tabled a question to the Government on 12 December asking whether “as part of their strategy against Islamic terrorism, they will encourage United Kingdom Muslim leaders to re-examine the Muslim tenet of abrogation?”
It is not the first time Lord Pearson has delved into matters relating to Islamic scripture and verses related to violence, nor indeed the first time that he has alluded to the responsibility of “Muslim leaders” to address the issue.
On 19 November 2013 he tabled a debateon Islam in the House of Lords in reaction to the Prime Minister’s statement following the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby to contest the PM’s assertion that “there is nothing in Islam that justifies acts of terror”. At the time, Lord Pearson insisted that the Qur’an was full of verses relating to violence than to peace, and that this was a source of inspiration for the killers of Lee Rigby.
Nearly a year later, and in response to the findings of a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee into the murder of Lee Rigby, Lord Pearson said the two men, Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo, had drawn on “22 verses” in the Qur’an to justify their actions. Lord Pearson addressing the Government said: “[S]hould we not encourage them to address the violence in the Koran—and, indeed, in the life and the example of Muhammad?”
So it is hardly surprising that Lord Pearson should return to the subject again. In the short debate in the Lords Chamber this week, he broached the subject of “abrogation” claiming “the Koran’s later, violent verses, of which there are many, take precedence over the earlier, peaceful verses, and so it lends support to the jihadists.”
His comments were subject to a considerable amount of criticism in the House of Lords’ debate. He made the rather brazen claim that “we can say what we like about any other religion, but we get into all manner of trouble if we try to discuss Islam.”
Quite why Lord Pearson should think that individuals “get into all manner of trouble if we try to discuss Islam” is inexplicable when the Incitement to Religious Hatred legislation offers a wide berth to individuals to engage in exactly the sort of inciteful behaviour against Muslims that would not pass if it were directed, say, at Jewish people. And then there are the prolific examples of people saying “what they like” about Islam, including an array of UKIP candidates. It is fair to say Lord Pearson’s claim is absolute nonsense.
Furthermore, his comments ignored how often Islam is routinely discussed in the media in a way that is frequently derogatory, with the tabloid newspapers rarely holding back on printing inflammatory stories about Islam and Muslims.
Lord Pearson further claimed there was a greater need for a “civilised national debate about Islam”.
Just how “civilised” a debate can be with members of a political party that have referred to Islam as an “evil cult“, “organised crime under religious camouflage” and called for Islam to be “banned” is hard to say but demands that Muslims sign a “Charter of Understanding” which requires they render “inapplicable, invalid and non-Islamic” all Qur’anic verses “encouraging physical violence, whether implicit or explicit, or any other quotations from any Islamic source, be that Sunnah or the sayings of the Prophet or that of the learned scholars or leaders of Jihad at any given time of place” is unlikely to get a “civilised debate” off the ground.
Furthermore, an article in the Independentfrom February 2016 has drawn attention to there being a far higher rate of violence and anger depicted in the Bible than in the Qur’an. The piece described how a software engineer developed text analytics software in order to gauge how often the scriptural texts referred to anger, fear, disgust, sadness, joy, trust, anticipation and surprise. He found the Bible scored higher than the Qur’an for anger, and that the Old Testament mentions killing and destruction more than twice as often as the Qur’an – 5.3% versus 2.1%
Baroness Hussein-Ece perhaps put it most succinctly on Monday challenging both the Government over the use of the term “Islamic terrorism” and Lord Pearson over his frequent outbursts in the Chamber.
Baroness Hussein-Ece said: “Can I ask the Minister whether she thinks it appropriate for a Question to be put down on the Order Paper of this House which refers to “Islamic terrorism”? She quite rightly referred to “Islamist terrorism”. It is inappropriate to lump in 2.5 million British Muslims in this country as somehow being associated with terrorism. Does she think that this Question being brought constantly to this House by a Member of this House is in fact helping those who want to see division in this society and who want to associate peace-loving Muslims in this country with terrorism?”
It’s ironic isn’t it, Lord Pearson telling Muslims to address violence in the Qur’an while purportedly giving succour to those “who want to associate peace-loving Muslims in this country with terrorism”?