Time to grasp the nettle

A mere expression of concern over clearly evidenced attitudes hostile to a particular group within our society, which attitudes attempt to manipulate the democratic process in order to achieve defined ends, is not ‘racism’, and the current attempted annexation of the narrative in order to close down debate must be resisted.  
From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free’.  Since the shocking events of 7 October, when Hamas savagely and without warning attacked Israel, brutally killing 1,269 men, women and children, before seizing 220 hostages and taking them as a bargaining chip back to Gaza, this is the message that has consistently been put out by pro-Palestinian supporters in the UK.  It is an open call for extermination of the state of Israel, promoting hatred for Jews worldwide, and leading in our own country to an unprecedented 589% recorded increase in anti-Semitic abuse and hate crime.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have without question been responsible for creating a climate of fear, and there is growing evidence of intimidation, abuse and even violence against those who hold different views.  Small wonder when people have been frightened to speak out!  Yet whatever the truth (and it is often not simple), it must be investigated, debated and acknowledged, and politicians must be free to challenge ideological coercion and act in the best interests of the country.  
We have for centuries been a Christian country, founded on justice and respect for all.  In particular, we have prized free speech and the right of our democratically elected representatives to speak their minds – together with the right of others to question what they say.  
MP Lee Anderson has been labelled racist and Islamophobic for saying that “Islamists” have got “control” over London and that Sadiq Khan has “given our capital city away to his mates”.  Leaving apart, for the moment, what he said, it is instructive to look at the allegations made against him more closely.  First, Islam is not a ‘race’, it is a religion – his words, therefore, whatever they may be, are not ‘racist’.  Second, ‘phobia’, though generally taken in this context to imply prejudice, is more correctly translated as irrational fear, or sense of dread when the source of that fear is encountered.  It may occur without being caused by, or provoking, hatred.  Therefore, again, the term ‘Islamophobia’ is misplaced.
Mr Anderson has been brave enough to express the concerns, felt by many, that we are being taken over by Muslim extremists.  You may agree or disagree with this – in a genuine democracy, that is your right – but, faced with growing evidence of possible abuse, it is a valid debate that must be held without fear of intimidation.  Likewise, our policies must be formed free of the fear of reprisal.
That said, very little appears to have been said or reported as to whether or not Mr Anderson’s concerns are justified.  But whether well founded or not, there is a need now for the evidence to be examined so that we can establish the truth.  As it is, accusations of racism and Islamophobia are commonly employed to create no-go areas, and to silence any debate before it starts.

Political point scoring attempting to demonise Mr Anderson and the Conservative party by calling them racist or Islamophobic is not just misconceived, but dangerous.  Everyone in the UK must abide by our laws.  There can be no exceptions, whether for atheists, Christians, Jews or Muslims, and regardless of political party.  And politicians must be free to debate and pass those laws that will establish and ensure the continuation and safety of our society, free of duress and without fear of reprisal.

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