A truly bizarre thing happened yesterday: Boris Johnson was branded an Islamophobe and a bigot for writing in defence of Muslim women who wear the niqab….
He’s been slammed everywhere as a racist, a borderline fascist, a poundshop Mussolini who if he ever gets to No10 will declare war on Muslims and other minorities. What is the basis to these shrill and wilful misinterpretations of what he said? Because alongside defending women’s freedom to wear the niqab and burqa, he expressed distaste for these garments. And, as we now know, you’re not allowed to say anything even remotely critical about Islam or its practices these days….
The rash reaction to Boris’s comments, the depiction of him as a hard-right tyrant, confirms that it is now tantamount to thoughtcrime to say anything critical about Islam. To make any kind of moral judgement about Islamic practices, to question its beliefs or its prophets or its garments, is to run the risk of being branded an ‘Islamophobe’, a racist, a fascist.
We’re witnessing the return of blasphemy laws by the backdoor. Only now it isn’t the Christian God and Christian beliefs that are protected from ‘contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous’ commentary, as was the case under the old blasphemy laws; it is Islam. Slowly but surely, informally, through the sly and hyperbolic demonisation of anyone who has any issues whatsoever with Islam, we have erected a moral forcefield around this religion to protect it from criticism or scepticism. Old blasphemers against Christianity were denounced as ‘heretics’; new blasphemers against Islam are branded ‘phobes’.