‘The hypocrisy of the Muslim Council is beyond belief’

Joan SmithThus the title to an article by Joan Smith in yesterday’s Independent on Sunday.

She condemns a letter from Muslim leaders in Saturday’s Times supporting the view of homosexuality expressed by Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain. She goes on to point out that the MCB “has supported Section 28, opposed lowering the age of consent for gay sex and has worked with evangelical Christians to oppose gay adoption”. She quotes Peter Tatchell’s statement: “How can the MCB expect to secure respect for Muslims when it shows such obvious disrespect to other people because of their sexual orientation?”

As we have already pointed out (see here) the views of Iqbal Sacranie and the MCB on homosexuality are not easily distinguishable from those of the Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and the Orthodox Jewish community. Indeed, a statement issued by Dr Sacks’ office – “There is no prospect of the mainstream Orthodox community permitting same-sex commitment or marriage ceremonies. Orthodox Jews are bound by biblical and rabbinic law, which only condones sexual relationships between a man and a woman who are married” – is identical to the position taken by the Muslim signatories to the Times letter.

Would Tatchell think it appropriate, then, to issue a statement such as: “How can the Chief Rabbi’s office expect to secure respect for Jews when it shows such obvious disrespect to other people because of their sexual orientation?” And would Joan Smith feel happy about publishing an article headlined “The hypocrisy of Orthodox Jewry is beyond belief”?

Smith argues that the MCB is guilty of hypocrisy because it wants to criticise homosexuality while at the same time supporting the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which she claims “would open critics of religion to the threat of a prison sentence”. This is of course a complete misrepresentation of the proposed legislation (see, for example, here). What the new law would do is illegalise incitement to hatred. Liberal secularist bigots like Smith could continue to express their prejudices against Muslims without hindrance.