Wednesday, 4 March 2009

If Hazel Blears made UK foreign policy...

Interesting comment from UK Communities Secretary Hazel Blears:

"The quality of debate about religion in contemporary life - and by religion, I mean all faiths - is being sapped by a creeping over-sensitivity," she said.

"Three-quarters of the UK population describe ourselves as belonging to one of the major world religions. Yet there is an astonishing amount of squeamishness about the subject."

Ms Blears said on the Middle East, the liberal-left's historic concern for oppressed peoples had in some cases "mutated" into support for organisations whose members were filled with "misogyny, homophobia and Jew-hatred".

"It leads to British democrats who are sickened by the sight of the suffering of the Palestinian people allying themselves with people who advocate the violent destruction of an entire nation-state."

Raises an interesting question or two for me.

My Gran, when talking about immigration, kinda takes Hazel Blears view. Tolerance up to a certain point - but if you are coming to live in Britain, you need to respect British "laws and culture" (so says my Gran). And that, I think, means practise the religion you want to, but within the laws of this country. Indeed, if one were to go and live in Saudi Arabia or Iran, you would be expected to respect the different culture and live by their laws. The same goes here. And that is a point I have no problem with.

But is Hazel Blears simply talking about Britain? Or does she mean we should be challenging these kind of practises abroad?

Because, while part of me thinks that is nothing more than "Empire" talk - harking back to days when we tried to "civilise" the uncivilised world, another part of me thinks there is a genuine point to it.

Yes, were we to go to Islamic countries (where, in some places, Sharia law exists) and tell them how "wrong" they were, how we would no longer tolerate their "backward" views I expect there'd be something of a backlash. But there is a principled stance to take - if we are saying homophobia is wrong, if we are saying we are for equality of the sexes, if we are saying that forced marriages are unacceptable (which IS, in fact, what Hazel Blears is saying) then don't we mean it it wrong FULL STOP? Or just in our little British bubble?

Is there a moral imperative to act on this? Or are we asking for more trouble from fundamentalists who are looking for yet another reason to hate the west? A controversial argument and a tricky one to balance.

This is probably why Hazel Blears doesn't make our foreign policy.


Anonymous,  4 March 2009 at 11:31  

You are on holliday!! Stop thinking!

TwoIfBySea 4 March 2009 at 22:53  

The fundamentalists hate the West when it is being very liberal and open to Islam so what would be the difference if we actually stood up for our own beliefs for a change?

I don't mean swinging different religions around but in particular the misogynistic stance they have is offensive to many women. We have to keep our mouths shut though, wouldn't want to be seen as "racist" for daring to dislike it now, would we? 5 March 2009 at 05:02  

""Three-quarters of the UK population describe ourselves as belonging to one of the major world religions. Yet there is an astonishing amount of squeamishness about the subject.""


And she follows it by not saying which religion it is e.g. Christian!

Indeed Squeamishness on even mentioning it would be christianity!

ASwaS 7 March 2009 at 19:50  

They'll like us when we win.

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