The banning of Islam4UK has, once again, thrown up various questions about the nature of the democracy we live in and the bounds of tolerance we are expected to exercise.
Should people be afforded the right to freedom of speech regardless of how abhorrent their words are? What does banning a radical group who want to practise mainstream acts of protestation achieve? Will it compel members to see the error of their ways and moderate their points of view or does it antagonise them still further?
Was Islam4UK banned because they sympathise with terrorism or because they planned a highly publicised, albeit hugely distasteful, protest?
Of course I completely believe that organisations that aim to promote violence, separation and hatred in the name of any religion have no place in modern Britain. If the reason for banning a group lies genuinely in the fear that they are inciting terrorism, it is a legitimate one.
Earlier this week, Gordon Brown condemned Islam4UK’s planned march as ‘disgusting.’ For me, it is equally disgusting when misleading representations of Islam and the minority extremist Muslim groups in the UK gain significance because of the attention they receive in the media.
I can only hope that the same column inches that Islam4UK hijacked can, in the future, be used to expose the work of the decent Islamic groups that represent the true values of the vast majority of British Muslims.
Essentially the bulk of Islamic groups in this country, who are nonviolent and peaceful, are more deserving of the attention that Islam4UK is currently enjoying from both the media and our politicians.
Progressive centre-ground Labour politics does not come for free.
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