Muslims Must Abide By Uk Code, Says Cre Chief

MUSLIMS living in the UK must accept that British values include a commitment to freedom of speech, even if that means offending people, says the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality. Speaking in the wake of worldwide demonstrations against cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, Sir Trevor Phillips said that the right to offend was an “absolutely precious” part of British identity, which could not be bargained away. And he suggested that any Muslims who want to live under a system of Shariah law should leave the country. However, Sir Trevor – who has recently sparked controversy with his attacks on multiculturalism and calls on ethnic minorities to integrate – said that the other side of the coin of freedom of speech was that non-Muslims must accept the right of imams to denounce homosexuality in a way that many people find offensive. Sir Trevor told ITV1’s Jonathan Dimbleby programme that he wanted to promote a sense of “Britishness” among all those living in the UK. “What some minorities have to accept is that there are certain central things we all agree about, which are about the way we treat each other – that we have an attachment to democracy, that we sort things out by voting, not by violence and intimidation, that we tolerate things that we don’t like,” he said. “Short of people menacing and threatening each other, we have freedom of expression. We allow people to offend each other.” And that commitment to freedom of expression should also allow Muslim preachers to make comments about homosexuality that are offensive to broad segments of the British population, he said. “One point of Britishness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is,” said Sir Trevor. “That’s why I believe that freedom of expression – including Muslim leaders’ right to say they think homosexuality is harmful – is absolutely precious. In the end, once we start to limit freedom of expression, the people who suffer most are minorities.” Sir Trevor rejected the idea that British Muslims should be allowed to live under Shariah law in their own communities. “I don’t think that’s conceivable,” he said. “We have one set of laws. They are decided on by one group of people, members of parliament, and that’s the end of the story. Anybody who lives here has to accept that’s the way we do it. If you want to have laws decided in another way, you have to live somewhere else.”