This isn't a blog I could post at the other place, since it's related to an English Village magazine published by the parish church, therefore I try to keep all politics out of it. As the past year's gone by I've become increasingly aware of the English Defence League (EDL), which was founded in Luton in March 2009, when a group of Muslims protested at a homecoming for the Royal Anglian Regiment.
It was first portrayed as a skinhead group, but it soon became clear that as well as white people it welcomed black people, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, gay people etc who are concerned about the spread of radical Islam in the UK. The EDL has both outlived many obituaries and is about to celebrate its second anniversary in Luton. In the run-up to this, founder Tommy Robinson (left) was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on last-night's Newsnight. Previously in the programme, Paxo appeared at his ease interviewing a Government minister, a Jordanian Prince and a USA acedemic, but seemed considerably discomfited when faced with an angry and determined working-class bloke.
Paxman's career-defining determination to put the BBC first (he famously ended Michael Howard's career by asking the former prisons secretary the same question 12 times because - as he later admitted - his producer was insisting that the next interviewee wasn't ready) showed itself tonight. He reacted incredulously to Robinson's insistence that the problem wasn't Muslims but rather the Koran. Had he researched the subjects likely to come up during the interview, he would have learnt that Muslims reject the Judaeo-Christian convention that holy books, while inspired by God, are written by fallible human beings. Islamic belief is that Muhammed produced series of verses dictated by the Angel Gabriel, and the book of those verses is only the Koran if written in Arabic in the original words.
They may have a point, of course - much of the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures have been through more translations than you can shake a stick at and, as Kiwi theologian Revd Bosco Peters states, every translation involves interpretation by the translator. So while we as individuals grow up with a Bible around which our culture has entwined like a second strand of DNA at the hands of generations of translators, the orthodox Islamic view is that not just the message but the words of their scriptures are immutable - and so, say the proponents of Sharia law, are the tenets upon which their immutable society is based.
On another level, Paxo was clearly indignant about Robinson's remarks about Pakistani drug-dealers, insisting his interlocutor join him in affirming that there are white drug-dealers. But again he was missing the point: as drugs-workers and police know but are unable to say in polite society, much (if not most) most of the heroin that enters the UK to be cut and distributed to drug-dealers of all races is brought through Pakistan.
I think everybody knew that Jack Straw would crop up in the conversation. The former Labour Home/Justice Secretary said that there was a particular problem in the Pakistani community whereby men saw young white girls as "easy meat". Paxman refused to deal with Straw's statement, which wasn't surprising - the day it was made, the BBC 10pm news wouldn't touch it. Robinson's summary of the difference between the two men was masterful:
Have you seen people on drugs pushed by Muslims? You might not have, but I have.Paxman's answer, with which he probably said more than he meant to, was "these are your issues".
Have you seen girls chatted up by Muslim men and put into burqas? You might not, but I have.
Have you seen young girls who've been raped and pimped by Muslim men? You might not, but I have.
These are our issues, and why the demonstration is being held in Luton, where schools of radicalisation has produced to date two known suicide bombers as opposed to the BBC, which stands accused of so many instances of editorial bias towards militant Islam I'll leave you to google it. I can't go to the EDL demonstration in Luton because I'm working, but I hope it goes well. Please read this if you plan to go to the EDL demonstration at Luton on Saturday 5th Feb.