No surprises here – Richards hails the “courage” of the MP for Poplar & Canning Town who walked out of his constituents’ wedding. Those of us who condemned Fitzpatrick’s boorish behaviour are, as you might expect, guilty of “cultural relativism”.
Equally predictably, Richards takes an ignorant swipe at Iqbal Sacranie: “He has served on this board and that, advised our Labour government, was secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), and has been knighted by the Queen. But looking at the CV, you are hard-pressed to find any evidence of having been elected by anyone to anything.”
And how does Richards suppose that Iqbal Sacranie got to be secretary-general of the MCB – through a military coup?
Richards claims to see a parallel between Fitzpatrick and, of all people, George Lansbury. He notes that in 1912 Lansbury resigned his East London seat to fight a by-election in support of women’s rights: “He lost the seat, but placed himself on the right side of decency, progress and equality for women, just like the Fitzpatricks when they walked away from the London Muslim Centre last weekend.”
The only parallel I can see here is that Fitzpatrick looks likely to lose his seat too.
Still, Richards sees hope for the future: “It is entirely reasonable, based on the evidence, that those sections of Britain’s Muslim communities … whose culture is tainted by medieval prejudice and abuse of power, will change.”
Update: Read ENGAGE’s response to Richards here.
Update 2: See “Sir Iqbal Sacranie: Correction and Apology”, Progress Online, 21 October 2009