Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Freedom of Speech in Great Britain: R.I.P.

London’s Hyde Park Corner has long symbolized free speech. Average citizens have the right to go there to declaim about whatever they wish. The tradition has been ongoing for a long time. But now, it seems, certain people who belong to a certain religious persuasion have decided that free speech violates their beliefs. That is, it constitutes blasphemy.

Two days ago a woman by the name of Hatun Tash was slashed by a knife wielding assailant while she was exercising her free speech rights on London’s Hyde Park Corner.

Brendan O’Neill has the story for Spiked. He notes ominously that no media outlet has been covering the story, because, as you know, members of certain religions are allowed to flout the law:

When are we going to talk about Hatun Tash? She’s the ex-Muslim and Christian evangelist who was allegedly slashed with a knife in broad daylight in Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park yesterday. And almost as shocking as the incident itself – as this horrific assault on a woman who was merely expressing her beliefs – has been the silence about it. There has been a trickle of press interest, but no big media splashes, no hashtag solidarity, no politicians expressing concerns that Britain seems to have become a country in which you criticise Islam at your peril. What is going on here?

Ms Tash is a former Muslim who is now a Christian and a prominent critic of Islam. Her religious view is that Muslims should be encouraged to convert to the Christian faith in order to save themselves. No doubt many Muslims find this an offensive idea, which they are perfectly at liberty to do. Tash is a regular of Speakers’ Corner. She engages in heated debates with Islamic preachers and others. Yesterday she was wearing a Charlie Hebdo t-shirt and making her usual comments about Islam, when a man in a black hood lunged towards her with great force, slashing at her face and her arm. Her face was covered in blood. The video, which has been widely shared online, is a difficult watch.

Did the police offer her extra protection? Not at all. They told her to stop speaking at Hyde Park Corner:

She was advised by police not to return to Speakers’ Corner – traditionally the one place in the UK where you can express pretty much any belief you like – for her own safety. Tash is living proof that being an ex-Muslim can be a risky business in our supposedly secular, free nation.

And, of course, the political left, in Great Britain as in the United States has been as silent as a lamb. Groups that have ginned up perpetual outrage over supposedly hateful speech are willing to give a knife wielding assailant a pass:

Where are the cries of denunciation, or at least of concern? The woke left claims to be against fascism, yet it is eerily quiet about a seemingly extremist attack on a woman for holding particular beliefs. Our media elites shake their heads over online abuse, but they haven’t yet mustered up the energy to talk about this act of brutal physical abuse against a woman – an immigrant woman, at that – who was only criticising a world religion.

Dare we mention that Britain’s Muslim leaders have not condemned the assailant. 

As it happens, O’Neill draws the correct and sad conclusion:

A country in which a teacher must go into hiding for displaying an image of Muhammad, and where an ex-Muslim can be stabbed for being ‘offensive’, and where all manner of supposedly bigoted speech can be punished with censure or censorship, is not a free country.


hayek said...

This brought back memories of arguing with an Indian Marxist regarding the subjugation of Tibet by the Communist Chinese whom he was defending at Speaker's Corner 50 years ago. Back then it was a lot of fun and people, though passionate in their arguments, tolerated each other.

Sam L. said...

The Brits are rolling over and playing dead. How long will it be before there is no playing but there is DEAD?