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Sacranie: no charges January 26, 2006

Posted by Rasheed Eldin in Homosexualists, Islam, Media.

Following news that Sir Iqbal Sacranie – Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain – was being investigated after comments made on Radio 4 about homosexuality and civil partnerships, I am relieved to note that no charges were put. From the Scotsman:

Officers said they would examine the remarks he made on Radio 4’s PM programme to see if any offences had been committed following a complaint from the public.

But on Monday a Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “There will be no further action on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service.”

My own view is that he should have chosen his words better, and his comments failed to deal with a very sensitive issue with the nuance it deserves. His comments could indeed be taken as offensive, especially because of his mention of diseases. We have to be wise in how we explain our religious position. Still, it is our duty (as it was Sacranie’s, in his position of responsibility) to be clear and confident in stating what we believe to be right and wrong, lest we be blameworthy before the Almighty.

Even if we believe that sexual deviancy (yes, I realise that could be taken as offensive too) results in the increase of disease, mentioning that is not essential in explaining our position. The view that homosexuality is anything other than natural and good is sadly not the mainstream view (though I doubt it’s a minority view, as yet) in our country today. For that reason, we should use wisdom in defending our moral stances, so that we might also allow people to sympathise or even agree with what we are saying.

I’m glad that Sacranie emphasised the need for tolerance, as that is one of the most lauded principles in our society. I take this to mean “live and let live”, but not that we must accept things that contradict our own principles. I don’t accept that LGBT people should be persecuted or discriminated against – but that doesn’t stop me from writing on this blog and trying to address what I see as a serious harm to the individual and society.

An article in the Observer made the following point:

To limit what can be said in public, the government also inserted a provision in Socpa that criminalises opinions that are held to stir up religious hatred. You may not make a joke about Islam, Judaism or Christianity without risking a criminal record. And section 5 of the Public Order Act allows police to prosecute if they believe a hate crime has been committed. Last week, they were investigating a leading Muslim, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, who made remarks on Radio 4s PM programme about homosexuality being morally and medically unacceptable. Sacranie’s views are daft and tasteless, but why shouldn’t he express them? Why should there be any legal restraint on the doubts I may voice about parts of his faith, its views on homosexuality, for example? That is the nature of free speech and we do not need a bunch of PC Plods patrolling our exchange.

It seems the writer, Henry Porter, is misrepresenting the legislation about religious hatred, which I’m not too sure about myself anyway (some Muslim commentators have pointed out its dangers). But I think there are serious dilemmas wherever freedom of speech and freedom from harassment intersect, and there are no easy answers. If I state that I dislike homosexuality, should I be taken as inciting hatred against homosexuals? Often, the distinction between what is inciting violence and hatred, and what is simply expressing a dissenting view, is clear. But the trouble is that these definitions can change, and eventually what I write could be considered criminal, though I mean no harm to anybody.

That is why I’m glad Sacranie has no charges against him (for now).



1. jamal - January 26, 2006

“Certainly it is a practice that in terms of health, in terms of the moral issues that comes along in a society – it is. It is not acceptable.”

I think he chose his words well. Clear and straight to the point.

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