About that missing Telegraph story

CensorshipThis is a very late post. Sadly, it is still relevant.

Click on this link and you will see the following, unless something changes (and I would be shocked if that happened):

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You get the idea. I have had this URL in my “GetReligion guilt” computer file for a month because it once led to a very timely and disturbing Telegraph article by Alasdair Palmer that ran with this headline: “The day is coming when British Muslims form a state within a state.” It described post-cartoon crisis research done by Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, who was studying the reaction of Islamic leaders in Great Britain. He is the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity. The Muslim leaders believe they won the day, to which Sookhdeo said:

“It’s confirmation of what they believe to be a familiar pattern: if spokesmen for British Muslims threaten what they call ‘adverse consequences’ — violence to the rest of us — then the British Government will cave in. I think it is a very dangerous precedent.”

Dr Sookhdeo adds that he believes that “in a decade, you will see parts of English cities which are controlled by Muslim clerics and which follow, not the common law, but aspects of Muslim sharia law. It is already starting to happen — and unless the Government changes the way it treats the so-called leaders of the Islamic community, it will continue.”

These are some strong words on one side of a very hot issue and, sadly, it is no longer possible to read them at the Telegraph website. They were — hat tip to Andrew Sullivan and others — pulled due to pressures, either legal or cultural.

However, you can read the full article on exit zero.

There are a number of issues here, in a confusing swarm. What are the facts? Are Islamic community structures in England beginning to clash with British structures? Why was the article pulled? Was the government involved in any way? One or more major Islamic groups? What happened here?

In light of other news events, it is also important to note the following paragraph in this banished story:

For someone with such strong and uncompromising views, Dr Sookhdeo is a surprisingly gentle and easy-going man. He speaks with authority on Islam, as it was his first faith: he was brought up as a Muslim in Guyana, the only English colony in South America, and attended a madrassa there. … Dr Sookhdeo’s family emigrated to England when he was 10. In his early twenties, when he was at university, he converted to Christianity.

Yes, it is a controversial thing when members of one faith convert to another and then, offering a mix of their old training and their new commitments, comment on religious matters in the public square. But does this automatically mean their views are out of bounds? Do MSM reporters, let’s say, avoid the views of former Southern Baptists when they write about conservative Christianity? Do they avoid former Roman Catholic priests when they write about issues in the modern American Catholic church?

I do not think so. These sources are valid, as part of a wider debate with a diversity of voices and viewpoints.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://goodandhappy.typepad.com/g_as_in_good_h_as_in_happ/ dilys

    Just as a technical matter, it’s important for bloggers to copy and archive in “drafts” the controversial stories they want to discuss and link to. Just in case.

  • Stephen A.

    The text is available at the links below. And yes, it’s wise to save text because articles tend to move or disappear online:

    From the letters to the editor received on the Telegraph site, it appeared that the translation the writer was using was not the “Noble Quran” translation, but another one. I don’t know how that makes any difference, but for the paper, that seemed to be enough to pull it. Apparently, some readers felt he was asking for the Quran to be banned, and from the following quote, it appears he does, at least this particular translation:

    “It calls for the killing of Jews and Christians, and it sets out a strategy for killing the infidels and for warfare against them. The Government has done nothing whatever to interfere with the sale of that book. Why not? Government ministers have promised to punish religious hatred, to criminalise the glorification of terrorism, yet they do nothing about this book, which blatantly does both.”

    I suppose the telegraph simply doesn’t want its offices firebombed.

  • Shannon Malcolm

    The Exit Zero link is broken; I suspect the server’s been overrun by too many people wanting to read the article, or some angry Muslim zealot has hacked the site and crashed it. Either of the latter two is telling.

  • http://www.maryams.net/dervish Umm Yasmin

    “…and tonight we are showing an interview with one of Jesus Christ’s leading disciples, Judas Iscariot. Forget devoted propoganda, find out what the Messiah was *really* like, from this inside source!”

  • http://www.maryams.net/dervish Umm Yasmin

    BTW it was probably removed because Sookhdeo had falsely claimed that the Bewley translation of the Qur’an called for the killing of Jews and Christians. I imagine their publishers pointed out the legal problems with that.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    The Exit Zero page is back up. It also points out that Yahoo has a copy of the article in its cache.

    Reading it, I saw something which set off my bullshit alarms. Dr Sookhdeo is claiming that Muslims in the UK are trying to set up Muslim-only regions where sharia law will hold sway. As evidence that this is already happening, he says:

    There’s already a Sharia Law Council for the UK. The Government has already started making concessions: it has changed the law so that there are sharia-compliant mortgages and sharia pensions.

    That’s the bit that set off my alarm. I’d heard about the complicated ways that Muslims get around the sharia prohibitions on charging or paying interest — they remind me a lot of Jewish traditions for dealing with the sabbath, like the shabbos goy or the eruv. And they’re no more harmful.

    Here’s more information about sharia-compliant mortgages and banking in the UK. One thing the article points out is that allowing Muslims to take part in these sorts of faniancial transactions — which are essential to buying a house or starting a business — helps foster a sense of social inclusion and integrate Muslims into the general community, rather than isolating them. (And here’s a USA Today article about the same thing going on in the US.)

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