I spent a long weekend in London meeting with a handful of prominent Iraqis, including two leading Shiite clerics. The group’s mission is to memorialize the brutality that existed under Saddam Hussein and to create a museum akin to the Holocaust Museum.
On a visit to Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner, I engaged a British Imam. Here are a few highlights of our exchange:
* Should leaving the Islamic faith be punishable by death? His response, “In Britain, no, but in an Islamic state, yes.” In an Isalmic state, conversion to a different religion is considered synonymous with treason.
* Some people are concerned about Muslim immigrants not assimilating into the British culture. The Imam’s response—”As Muslims we have fully integrated into British society, but we have no desire to assimilate to an inferior culture.” Ironically, Britain today has “reverse assimilation” as exemplified by the fact that British police sniffer dogs wear “booties” with rubber soles so as not to offend Muslims.
* On the Muslim who was found not guilty of beating his wife in a German secular court because it did not violate Shari’a law, his response was, “Just as we punish our children to reprimand them, so too sometimes it is justifiable to reprimand our wives. It is our duty.”
Dining at the House of Lords, graciously hosted by Baroness Caroline Cox and Lord Malcolm Pearson, joined by my friend Gerard Batten, who ran for Mayor of London, we discussed the impact of political correctness on British culture. A UK judge recently said that Shari’a law is permissible in domestic relationships, distressing women’s rights advocates. Adding to this, the recent resolution passed by the United Nations, banning criticism of Islam and Mohammed, essentially making it akin to ‘hate speech’, drives all of us to discern what we can do, as private citizens on both sides of the pond, to maintain the free speech traditions we’ve enjoyed in western civilization, and for which so many have died.