"Freedom from religion in Britain is becoming as important as freedom of religion, according to a United Nations investigation.Now here are good news and bad news. The good news, that most Britons are non-religious are very good.
A 23-page report by Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, says that the 2001 census findings that nearly 72 per cent of the population is Christian can no longer be regarded as accurate. The report claims that two thirds of British people do not admit to any religious affiliation.
The report calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England. It says that the role and privileges of the Church do not reflect “the religious demography of the country and the rising proportion of other Christian denominations”.
The report says that there is an “overall respect for human rights and their value” but it gives warning of discrimination against Muslims.
Citing research that 80 per cent of Muslims in Britain feel that they have been discriminated against, the report singles out the Terrorism Act 2000 for particular criticism. Under the Act police in some areas can stop and search people without having to show reasonable suspicion.
The report says that this affects ethnic and religious minorities more than other groups, especially since the bombings of July 7, 2005. Figures for 2004 to 2006 “show that searches of people with Asian appearance under this provision increased by 84 per cent, compared to an increase of only 24 per cent for white people”.
The report’s author also criticises terms in the Terrorism Act 2006 for being “overly broad and vaguely worded”."
The Times, February 22, 2008
The bad news is of course discrimination. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the report anywhere, so I'm not sure about what's been written on the issue. But you know things have gotten out of hand in Britain when an Iraqi minister is surprised to see so much extremists in the mosques:
"UK mosques too radical for Iraq, says ministerThere has also been plenty of examples lately where Muslims have been behaving badly. I wrote this earlier:
Dr Barham Salih commented that some of the mosques he had seen in Blackburn during a visit to the UK as a guest of Jack Straw were highly radicalised, and that it was unsurprising that Britain had problems with extremism.
"I am not surprised that you British are facing so many problems with extremists after what I saw in those mosques in Blackburn," he said. "What I saw ... would not be allowed here in Iraq - it would be illegal.""
Lately, we have seen a couple of disturbing developments where freedom of religion has been used to make other people's lives miserable. Muslim staff at Sainsbury in England refused to handle alcohol, Muslim staff at Marks & Spencer refused to sell a book of bible stories, Muslim medical students refuse to learn about alcohol or sexual diseases and finally: Muslim medical students are refusing to obey hygiene rules."Oh, and I forgot setting up sharia courts and blowing up bombs and stuff. Not to mention the episode after the "Undercover mosque" documentary where the West Midlands Police discriminated against Channel 4 for trying to do their job when the WMP clearly didn't.
Have these Muslims been discriminated against? No, not apart from those working for Channel 4. Will their persistent Koran-pushing result in a bad-tempered British society who is willing to cut corners, resulting in discrimination of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims who may look like Muslims? No doubt, and that's a shame.
So I hope that Asma Jahangir also has a solution for the religious bigots who I am sure will scream discrimination whenever they can.