11 September saw yet another anti-Islam conference under the auspices of Pamela Geller’s “Stop Islamization of Nations” branding. Among the usual speakers was Kevin Carroll, vice-chair of the English Defence League and British Freedom. Carroll took the opportunity to brandish headlines from the Daily Express and Daily Mail that focus on perceived slights against Christianity in the UK:
Mr. Carroll dramatically held up some British newspapers with headlines that are testimony to the degree of Muslim influence the British are living under today and the loss of their individual freedoms. These brave gents refuse to leave their homes in spite of the fact that their country is now in the second stage of Islamic transformation.
The first story, entitled “No Right to Wear a Cross at Work”, can be seen here. It concerns court cases brought by Christians who believe that their wish to wear a cross at work should enjoy the same protection as that given to symbols of minority religions. The UK government, following the London Appeal Court judgement of Eweida v British Airways plc  EWCA Civ 80, takes the view that the wish to wear the cross is not a “requirement” of the Christian faith, and so should not be seen as an automatic right; however, the text of the Express article mischievously gives the impression that the government wishes to actively bring in a blanket “workplace ban”. The Appeal Court’s ruling may be wrong, but how is that the fault of Muslims? If anything, the efforts of immigrant religious minorities to achieve accommodation (such as those of Sikh bus drivers and conductors in 1969) have opened the way for (and have perhaps even inspired) Christian activism on the issue of wearing the cross. I discussed the background more broadly here.
The second piece, “Speak Up for Christianity PM Tells Archbishop”, can be seen here. However, as Liberal Burblings notes, the text of Cameron’s speech does not support the Mail‘s interpretation of it. Again, though, how this relates to Islam is obscure [UPDATE: Although there is, of course, some hostility towards Rowan Williams in general for his views expressed in 2008 on shariah arbitration].
UPDATE: A video of Carroll’s speech has now been posted on-line. Carroll (from 9 mins 33 secs onwards) claims that the Archbishop wants shariah to run “parallel” to British law (which is not in fact Williams’ view), and he made the claim that Williams was a “former member of the Socialist Workers’ Party”; this is not actually true, and is probably a garbled recollection of a Telegraph report (which I discussed here) about Williams’ involvement with the Jubilee Group in the 1980s.
As regards the issue of the right to display the cross, Carroll claims that the government wants to bring in a ban for the benefit of Muslims who may be offended by the sight of a crucifix, and that the ban will be enforced by the police. Pointing to his own lapel cross (which also incorporates a poppy), he affirmed that he would take “a bullet in my head” rather than remove it.
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