Chatting With Bari

A self-appointed ‘community spokesman’ does some speaking.

Sir Salman Rushdie should never have been knighted, he says. “He caused a huge amount of distress and discordance with his book, it should have been pulped.”

Ah. So any book that causes ‘a huge amount of distress and discordance’ should be pulped? That might include a lot of books, yeh? Plus Bari isn’t altogether consistent.

According to a recent report by the Policy Exchange think-tank, the bookshop at the east London Mosque, which Dr Bari chairs, stocks extremist literature. “The bookshops are independent businesses,” he says. “We can’t just go in and tell them what to sell…”

Or that their books should be pulped? Hmm?

His passion is to integrate Muslim and British cultures – he says integration must go both ways. “Everybody can learn from everyone. Some of the Muslim principles can help social cohesion – family, marriage, raising children with boundaries, giving to the poor, not being too greedy.”

‘The Muslim principles’? So Bari thinks family, marriage, raising children with boundaries, giving to the poor, and not being too greedy are ‘Muslim principles’ which no one else ever thought of and which are a monopoly of Islam? If so he’s wrong. Islam doesn’t even have a monopoly on using ‘family, marriage’ as code for ‘subordination of women’ – that’s practically universal. Christian apologists do the same thing, of course: talk about forgiveness or peace or ‘family values’ as if they were exclusively Christian. They’re not.

Abortion should also be made more difficult. “By the time a foetus is 12 weeks old our religion says that the child has got a spirit.” Homosexuality is “unacceptable from the religious point of view”.

There’s that ‘child’ again – the one the Vatican likes to talk about, the one anti-abortion campaigners like to talk about – you know, the twelve-week-old child that has ‘a spirit.’ But what ‘our religion’ says about a foetus is irrelevant, because it’s mere assertion. It might be accurate or it might not, but ‘our religion says’ is worthless as a general principle.

Is stoning ever justified? “It depends what sort of stoning and what circumstances,” he replies. “When our prophet talked about stoning for adultery he said there should be four [witnesses] – in realistic terms that’s impossible. It’s a metaphor for disapproval.”

Oh is it?! Is it really?! Tell that to Malak Ghorbany. Tell it to the women in Iran and Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia who have in fact been stoned to death. Metaphor! Metaphor!? Yes it’s a metaphor just the way the death penalty in Texas is a metaphor.

For an antidote, see Gina Khan on the MCB (and other things).

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