Richard North, 05/02/2006  

As so often, it is The Business which best articulates the issues, in this case those surrounding the Mohammed cartoons rumpus, running an article headed, "Cartoons draw a sinister silence" by Fraser Nelson.

Nelson draws the parallel between Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party, claiming his trial in Leeds last week was the best advertisement for his Party, and the protest outside the Danish embassy in London – which in the event provided a much better evidence that Islam was a fundamentalist religion that threatens British culture.

Griffin, writes Nelson, has sought to convey two messages: that immigration is a threat to British society and that Westminster politicians are too timid to even admit to the problem, far less do anything about it.

Now, with the placards of the London protesters lodged in the public domain, the response of Blair, the prime minister, has been weak and the response of Blair the plod has been pathetic.

But so indeed has been David Cameron who, (according to The Business)has said he wants "to be kept out of this one", with only Dominic Grieve, Shadow Attorney General, calling the Danish cartoons "reckless", after having admitted that he had not seen them.

But with mainstream politicians saying little and doing nothing about what many in Britain see as outrageous behaviour by the London demonstrators, Nelson suggests that they will turn to the BNP. "This is exactly how a far-right fringe party like the BNP enters the mainstream," he writes. "There are no easy political responses to this bizarre cartoon jihad. But staying silent," he concludes, "could be the most dangerous option of all."

Perhaps aware of that very possibility, Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain yesterday called on Sir Ian Blair, the Met plod commissioner, to press charges against the protestors.

This is reported by The Sunday Times, with Bunglawala cited as saying that "The Metropolitan police should now consider all the evidence they have gathered from the protests to see if they can prosecute the extremists."

He then adds: "It is time the police acted, but in a way so as not to make them martyrs of the Prophet's cause, which is what they want, but as criminals. Ordinary Muslims are fed up with them," stating also that "Lots of innocent Muslims went to the demonstration not realising that it was organised by extremists. They were hijacked by them."

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the council's secretary-general, expands further on this, saying that, "We cannot have double standards, so therefore any breach of the law should be looked at by the police and investigated. The cartoons have offended every Muslim and the anger of Muslims has to be lawfully expressed. However, this outrage was used by some to induce Muslims into taking part in terrorist violence. We condemn their actions."

The whimpish response from the Association of Chief Police Officers, however, almost beggars belief, their spokesman saying that the protests did not yet represent a serious threat to public order. A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Arrests, if necessary, will be made at the most appropriate time. This should not be taken as a sign of lack of action."

Obviously sensing a sea change in public sentiment, it now seems that the Conservatives are coming into line, or so at least says The Sunday Telegraph, which goes to press much later than The Business.

Now, it appears, David Davis, the shadow home secretary, is also calling on the police to arrest militant Muslims, saying that the police should take action against what were clearly offences of incitement to murder. "Whatever your views on these cartoons," he declares, "we have a tradition of freedom of speech in this country which has to be protected. Certainly there can be no tolerance of incitement to murder."

According to The Sunday Times, Scotland Yard says a decision not to arrest protesters was taken because of public order fears. It confirmed that police had received more than 100 complaints from the public about the protesters' behaviour.

And, to rub in the partisan approach of the police, yesterday, more than 1,000 demonstrators staged a second protest outside the embassy. The only arrests made were of two men found carrying cartoons of Mohammed. Police said they had been detained "to prevent a breach of the peace". A man dressed as a suicide bomber (pictured above), however, was left unhindered, while the police sought to prevent photographers taking pictures.

Now we wait to see whether the Tories do push the case or whether Davies is just going through the motions, without the support of the Boy King.

Certainly, as far as this Blog is concerned, the Friday demonstrations were the tipping point and many people feel the same. As The Business suggests, anything less than a robust response will provide the BNP with their best recruitment opportunity since the London bombings.


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