Examination of Witnesses (Questions 340-346)|
THURSDAY 17 OCTOBER 2002
IQBAL AKM SACRANIE
OBE, MR ABDUL
340. It would be very helpful if you could because
I am not sure we are going to be able to keep the two issues apart.
They did not start off as alternatives to each other but the more
one thinks about it the more they seem to impinge on each other.
If you can help us about finding some way of expressing this that
could be very useful indeed. We have more or less run out of time,
are there any other matters? Do you also subscribe to something
like the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act for Desecration?
(Mr Sacranie) We believe whatever is available is
helpful. We need to see practical examples of how the law is being
applied, but at the moment whatever is there is beneficial and
helpful to the community.
341. Is there anything else in the list of questions
you would like to comment on?
(Mr Sacranie) I think our other colleagues will be
covering other matters as well but by and large the key matters
are in the submission.
Chairman: Taken in conjunction with your written
material, that is your evidence.
Baroness Massey of Darwen
342. Can I ask one quick question as a woman
here, with regard to question 7 about problems in race relations
legislation, are there particular problems for Muslim women with
regard to reporting or harassment?
(Mrs Joseph) We are very visible, obviously, as women.
Yes, we have cases of some experiences of Muslim women post 11
September which have been posted to the MCB. For example, a woman
on a bus being shouted at and being told she was a terrorist.
The gentlemenhe was not a gentlemanher abuser, her
tormenter suggested he was going to rape her. Another woman had
to leave her course because of the torment she received. There
is great visibility of us as Muslim women. Incidents have increased.
Secondly, the fear that you feel. On a personal note, on the day
after 11 September my mother called me that night and said, "take
off your scarf" because she knew what would happen because
of what had happened previously, for instance during the Gulf
Warbeing spat at, abused, people trying to tear my scarf
off and these incidents go across the county, and people receiving
physical abuse as well. As a white person, of course, I do not
fit into some race categories and I think amongst converts there
are increased situations which we find ourselves in.
343. Do you think that would be helped by new
(Mrs Joseph) I think it gives a signal. I think that
is one of the purposes of law, it should give a signal to society
and at the end of the day you can prosecute. I think it is the
signal more than anything else we really require. It is a requirement
for those who are going to perpetrate this and it is a requirement
for Muslims themselves to know that you are respected enough for
the law to cover you, for the law to value you and for the law
to say that this is a wrong course of behaviour. At the moment
it does not say that.
Lord Clarke of Hampstead
344. In your comment you mentioned key beliefs,
have you given any thought to how the protection of non-believers
could be included in the legislation that you suggested?
(Mr Hamid) So far as this is concerned there is clear
Qur'anic teaching on this.
345. I notice about not coveting any other,
and you mention three prophets. I am thinking about today's modern
language and trying to draft legislation that protects those who
are non-believers. If we are going to accept the line you have
taken to retain the Blasphemy Act but putting a stronger piece
of legislation in to protect all those "key beliefs"
has any thought been given to how that can be expanded to the
minority of religious beliefs?
(Mr Hamid) So far as the Muslim position is concerned
it is clearly stated there is no compulsion in religion. We are
under a religious obligation not to compel anyone to become or
to believe in a particular religion. That is the basis I think
which could form the basis of any secular law as well.
346. I think Lord Clarke's point is one that
occupies our minds and we are very aware of the fact that there
are people who have very strong non-religious beliefs.
(Mrs Joseph) Can they be identified as a group? In
a sense they are so identified as group in such a condensed way
that they can be seen as a group. If you do not have a belief
can you have something which is not to be attacked?
Chairman: I am going to leave that to the experts
on this subject. I think we have some material which indicates
you may be wrong. May I suggest to you if you would like to stay
and listen to the Muslim lawyers and think about matters, first
of all you could take note of what they say and if there is anything
that you want to add to what you have already given us, particularly
perhaps on how we can phrase a new offence, then please come back
to us and it may very well be that we shall come back to you.
For the moment may I thank you very much indeed.