16 May

The Religion of Peace and Love

A pregnant woman in Sudan has been sentenced to be hanged for converting to Christianity. Mariam Yahya Ibrahim, 27, who is being held in detention with her 20-month-old son, had been ordered to abandon her Christian faith and return to Islam. She has also been charged with adultery for marrying a Christian man. The death sentence was given despite appeals by Western embassies for compassion and respect for religious freedom. At a court in Khartoum, Judge Abbas al Khalifa said: “We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged.”

(Courage, Mariam: remember what Jesus managed to achieve in three days)

The judge also sentenced her to a hundred lashes for “adultery.”

I am puzzled by this and I should like to know whether this barbarism is being perpetrated in the name of Islam, or is it only “Islamist”? Actually, I can answer that question myself: the Koran prescribes the death penalty for Muslims who renounce their religion. That is quite definite: the Muslim scriptures are the basis for all Islamic doctrine and legality. Thus this is not a question of “extremism.” It’s in the book, as they say. So any Muslim who does not believe that the death penalty should be prescribed for those who convert from that ideology to the Christian religion is simply not a faithful Muslim. But I do have a further question: If I criticise the judgment of the Sudanese court, am I guilty of “Islamophobia”? But the word “phobia” means an irrational and neurotic fear. And there is nothing irrational or neurotic about fearing a religion which institutes barbarism.

Also today we learn that state schools in Birmingham which are alleged to have established Islamic teaching and Islamic social practices are to be re-secularised by parachuting in “super-heads” from high-achieving schools in the area. Certainly – for the time being at least – Birmingham’s troubles are little ones compared with the fate decreed for Mariam in Sudan. But the authorities will not be able to arrest the Islamic incursions into our national life. The process is entrenched and the speed and intensity of it is increasing. Only be patient, give it time…

I have been looking at the figures produced in the 2011 census and others from the Office for National Statistics. There were one-and-a-half million Muslims in this country in 2001. By 2011 there were 2.7 million. The census further reported that our Muslim population is increasing at ten times the rate of non-Muslims. And there are 100,000 converts to Islam every year.

A friend told me that he has a colleague who describes himself as “a moderate Muslim” – an oxymoron, for there can be no such thing. You are either a faithful Muslim – one who accepts the Islamic scriptures including Sharia – or you are faithless. Anyhow, this man means by calling himself a moderate Muslim that he occasionally eats pork and likes a drink. My friend then asked him, “D’you think Islam will be the religion of this country within fifty years?”

“Of course,” he replied.

Fifty years is a long time to wait. We’re just going to have to be patient.