Conservative Diary

« James Forsyth is the new Political Editor of The Spectator | Main | Conservatives eye £13bn saving by raising retirement age to 66 »

Sayeeda Warsi condemns Labour's hostility to Christianity and warns against anti-Muslim hatred

WARSI-BARONESS We don't normally copy and paste large sections of a speech but Sayeeda Warsi gave an interesting speech on religion yesterday.  She rightly noted examples of this Labour government's hostility to faith and Christianity in particular (a theme long pursued by Mark Pritchard MP):

"Under Labour, the State has become increasingly sceptical of an individuals religious belief.  We’ve all seen the stories, how appalling that in Labour’s Britain a community nurse can be suspended for offering to pray for a patient’s recovery.  Or a school receptionist could face disciplinary action for sending an email to friends asking them to pray for her daughter.  At the heart of these cases lies a growing intolerance and illiberal attitude towards those who believe in God. The scepticism of senior Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris driving this secular agenda has now grown to become an ideology permeating through many parts of the public sector.  It’s an agenda driven by the political-elite, who have hijacked the pursuit of ‘equality’ by demanding a dumbing down of faith. It’s no wonder that this leads to accusations in the media that our Country’s Christian culture is being downgraded."

The Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion and Social Action went on to note the benefits of faith to society:

"For many their faith brings them closer to their neighbour, it’s the driver for their voluntary work, their social action.  And for many, faith is the basis for some of the best schools in our Country.  This scepticism against faith communities and in some case outright hostility, is both wrong and dangerous. Strong societies are built on cherishing their heritage. So when some misguided lliberal tries to downgrade Christmas or a school tries to ban the nativity play, or a child is not taught about the empire in case it offends.  It’s no wonder we lose track of who we are Conference, I am not for one minute suggesting that faith communities should get a special deal, but, I do believe they should get a fair deal. One that doesn’t discriminate. One that isn’t intolerant. And one that truly understands and appreciates religious communities… and their contribution."

Baroness Warsi concluded with some remarks about her own faith and repeats Peter Oborne's contention that anti-Muslim hatred is Britain’s last remaining socially acceptable form of bigotry"

"I am sure you will forgive me if I say a little about my own faith. As a British born Muslim, I believe that my faith makes me a better person. I disagree with those who believe that in the present climate, to say one is a Muslim is more a political “act than simply a matter of faith. British Muslims are found in every walk of life, as doctors, nurses , teachers, as soldiers in the British “armed forces, as parliamentary candidates and dare I say members of the House of Lords. But reading some newspapers or some blogs today you could easily believe that such Muslims are in the minority. Since the 7/7 attacks in Britain, the fear of terrorism has fuelled the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment. Leading journalist Peter Oborne in his Daily Mail column said that anti-Muslim hatred “is Britain’s last remaining socially acceptable form of bigotry”.

“Recent months have seen several arson attacks targeting mosques around the country.  In September, a spate of attacks against Muslims culminated in the death of a sixty-seven year old man in Tooting. And last week, here in Manchester, 20 Muslim gravestones were desecrated. Conference, the fight against extremism cannot succeed if all communities do not feel they belong and have an equal stake in Britain’s future. As I have said earlier I am not for one minute suggesting that the Muslim community or any other community should get a special deal. But, I do believe racism and religious intolerance is unacceptable, and just because you belong to the Islamic faith – you are no less a British citizen deserving of our country’s protection. Like all-forms of bigotry, like anti-Semitism and homophobia, anti-Muslim hatred should rightly be recognised as an evil and noxious creed. Discrimination against any community has no part in a liberal democracy, it is not Conservative and it certainly is not the British way."

Many people have questions about some Islamic teachings and cries of "anti-Muslim hatred" should not be used to silence those questions.

Under David Cameron the Conservatives have a mixed record on religious freedom. The education policy is supportive of more faith-based schoolsbut Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to accept gay equality in a significant erosion of freedom of association.

Tim Montgomerie


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.