by Emma Webb
Monday, 9
March 2020
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15:03

Trevor Phillips, heretic

Labour's suspension of the anti-racism campaigner reflects the party's turn towards zealotry
by Emma Webb
Labour’s suspension of the anti-racism campaigner reflects the party’s turn towards zealotry. Credit: Channel 4

In 9th Century Islamic Spain, non-Muslims were second class citizens, paying a special tax — the jizya — to ensure their protection and remind them of their place in society. So, when a monk, born in Cordoba under Umayyad rule, was challenged by two Muslim men to say who was greater — Mohammed or Jesus — he was understandably hesitant to answer.

Convinced that he would be protected if he gave his honest answer, the monk told the Muslim men what he believed: that Mohammed was a false prophet and therefore immoral. In April 850, he was arrested, found guilty of blasphemy and beheaded for insulting the Prophet. Recorded in Memoriale Sanctorum, this monk became Saint Perfectus, one of the Martyrs of Cordoba.

According to legend, his last words blessed Christ and condemned Muhammad and the Quran. He was allegedly the first martyr at the beginning of a period of persecution against Christians in Al Andalus.

Today, it is easy to relate to Saint Perfectus’ hesitance. You might not lose your head, but you could lose your job — however vanilla your opinion. Even recounting this story might get me in trouble.

According to the widely adopted definition of Islamophobia, it is prohibited to make certain statements about the prophet Mohammed or claims about Islamic history, such as: “Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule”. Understandably this has led to concern from historians, academics and other faith groups over its potential to limit free speech and discussion of the less rosy aspects of Islamic history or doctrine.

Despite warnings that it could be weaponised to silence dissidents and function as a back-door blasphemy law, the Labour party are going full steam ahead. Case in point is the Party’s suspension of well-known anti-racism advocate Trevor Phillips, on accusations of Islamophobia.

According to today’s Times, among the statements being investigated are Phillips’ concerns about the Pakistani-Muslim men involved in the Rotherham grooming gang scandal, and about an opinion poll showing sympathy for the motives of the “Charlie Hebdo” attackers.

Writing in the Times, Phillips reflected that tyranny is not always a pounding fist on your door in the middle of the night but it can take the form of “a bureaucrat’s warning: recant, repent, denounce your fellow deviants and you may save your livelihood”.

After 30 years in the Labour Party and a life time’s work devoted to combating racism, the language of the letter he received was the “cold-eyed, accusatory prose of the zealot”, he said, “I am accused of heresy, and threatened with excommunication”.

Labour’s actions have now left the party shorn of another dissenting voice, marking another step in its slow descent towards authoritarianism.

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Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

it is hard to imagine a more repulsive organisation than the current Labour Party. Yet still 10 million people voted for them.

janecampaign
janecampaign
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Well it might be, if the other mainstream parties weren’t even worse. The LibDems and Greens are both awash with trans ideology, and the Tories with islamophobia. No need to single out any one of them.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  janecampaign

Proof of ‘islamaphobia’ the Conservative party are ‘awash’.
Youll need many many examples to prove ‘awash’.

Mark Lambert
Mark Lambert
2 years ago

Could this be a good thing, in an ironic way?

Lots of print media and broadcast media people will be looking at each other thinking, “but I agree with him”. As well as the general population.

It might be a wake-up call to show how easy it is to be defamed for having
real concerns on societal issues.

Perhaps certain broadcasters will grow a backbone on this.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Lambert

I think we all know that if we express any ‘real concerns’ about certain issues the police will be knocking on our door. For the moment we can express those concerns at the ballot box, although this would soon have been denied to us had Corbyn come to power.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago

It seems to me that almost nobody knows the history of Islam and its advance. I myself knew or understood next to nothing of it until a few years ago. Thus, by the time many or most people across western Europe wake up, it will be too late.

William Cable
William Cable
2 years ago

Trevor Phillips has been one of the few genuinely bi-partisan figures in modern politics – if Labour are really so far off the deep end that he can now be condemned as a bigot then they may be beyond saving.

Hugh R
Hugh R
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

So true, but they can’t see it. Purity beats Power.
Or as Eric put it:
“”And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed”if all records told the same tale”then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  William Cable

ARE beyond saving.

David Waring
David Waring
2 years ago

When the early cases Rotherham and Oldham were first publicized I was accused of being racist by my MP when I expressed concerns to him.
So I trawled the papers for data seeking Court reports of local papers and located reports of possible 8,500 underage victims spread across 53 English towns and cities.
During the period of the reports there was deliberate suppression of data on the incidents ranging from files going missing to manipulation of TV schedules to delayed reporting from peak audience times. The most recent occurrences appear to have been a direct attempt to distract the authorities from the range and scale of the issue by targeting elderly or dead public figures.

michael.petek
michael.petek
2 years ago

Who would want to be a member of a party owned by Jew-hating sympathisers of terrorists?

Nick Podmore
Nick Podmore
2 years ago

The best cure is to shine a light on this issue…the best way to do that is for the government to release their report…which they now say is not in the public interest. I suspect it proves, in scrupulous detail, everything we already know to be true. Sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament

Samuel Turner
Samuel Turner
2 years ago

Is the Labour Party left-wing at all these days? What happened to the left values for secularism, free-speech, and tolerance?

phil.redman
phil.redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Samuel Turner

They tolerate you as long as you agree with them

phil.redman
phil.redman
2 years ago

He’s been tactless enough to voice a heresy

Hugh R
Hugh R
2 years ago

…..At the heart of Haidt’s explanation is the point that conservatives employ a more extensive palate of political values, including values such as purity and disgust”

Such is a quote by a much respected Left-leaning cleric on this platform
So it seems we come back to opinion. The trouble is that complex human interactions sometimes cannot be reduced to a soundbite, no matter how you try, and we live in the age of the shrill.