United Kingdom – The Police Service of Northern Ireland posted a notice on Twitter on November 18 that they had arrested a 31-year-old woman under Article 9(1) of the Public Order (Northern Ireland law). They said this was due to a speech she held on August 6 this year, at the Northern Ireland Against Terrorism conference in Belfast. This woman is Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the political party Britain First, who indeed made some noteworthy statements at the speech mentioned. Several newspapers have accused Britain First – including Press Association, The Sun, The Independent, and others – for being a “far-right nationalist” party. They do not, however, provide an actual definition of what “far-right” actually means, thus the reasonable interpretation would be that it is a media smearing tactic against the party to ridicule its position. It cannot, however, be argued against their being a nationalist party, because their whole platform screams of self-proclaimed patriotism and defense of Western values.
The law she was arrested under can quickly be illustrated as the British counter-part of the American first amendment: “(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” Quite ironic, right? Her right to critique another religion seems to not be protected under this law, but rather the reverse. The notion of “my rights end where yours begin” is of little relevance to this circumstance, as her speech did not prevent anyone else’s right to be of the Islamic faith, or any other faith, she merely criticized its philosophy, and pointed out its contradictions to our beloved Western values.
The speech itself was relatively harmless, but undoubtedly noteworthy, direct, and effective. In the speech she starts by saying, “Everyone who’s here today is here because we recognize that there is a threat, to us; to our people; to our safety; to our nations; and that threat is terrorism.” She then points out to the people, including the newspapers mentioned, calling Britain First extremists, that their being an anti-terror movement would make that contradictory. Later on, she says that “the biggest threat to civilization, across the world, is Islam. Without a doubt,” referring to all the Islamic terror attacks which occur regularly and pop up on the news. “We are at war with Islam, the world is at war with Islam,” she added. She indirectly claims to have studied the scriptures of the Islamic doctrine and state with confidence that “Islam and Jihad are one and the same,” “there is no moderate Islam,” and “Islam says, every single one of you, wonderful people here today, deserves to be killed. Every single one of you! What for? Because you don’t believe in their false prophet, because you don’t believe in a prophet who took a child bride, or committed genocide and mass murder. That’s your only crime. You all deserve to die for it just like I do.”
She then argues against the Northern Irish Republicans being of the Christian faith, and it is rather just their narrative, and that she recognizes their form of terror being just as bad as the Islamic one. She opines that, as a Christian, she perceives those Republicans not to be actual Christians, but that the people who wage Jihad in the name of Allah are undoubtedly Muslim. She notes the difference between the religions: “See, here’s the problem. You follow the bible, you’re very good to each other. You follow the Quran, you have to kill every non-Muslim in sight. That’s the reality.”
She goes on to refer to her own experiences. Saying she comes from London, which, according to her, is “completely gone,” and that the capital has “fallen.” “When we gave our capital city to Sadiq Khan, to a Muslim mayor who has stood on a platform with Islamic extremists, London fell for good. I can’t walk through the streets of my home town without being spat at, in my face, by a dirty Muslim extremist. I can’t walk through the streets of East London without being attacked, I have to take security guards with me. This is no joke.”
She later talks about the mosque building by the Muslims in Britain, saying that they “won’t stop” filing more applications for more of them to be built, and that, “if they don’t get one, they’ll just convert a house into a mosque. And then the counsel will be forced to let them have it as a mosque, because it’s ‘their religious right.’ And this is how they infiltrate.” She then makes an ultimatum for her party Britain First to be leading the campaign “against every single mosque that is proposed in Northern Ireland. I am not just saying this. I am promising you, right here, right now, I myself, Britain First, will be here, with you, to make sure that this dense of inequity do not cover every single street corner of this beautiful country. It’s not happening!”
She ends the speech by referring to the biblical occurrence of Jesus’ anger when the people were disrespecting his temple, and compared the temple to their nation: “Well this, ladies and gentlemen, is our temple! And we should get angry when people disrespect it. The time is now!”
It’s undoubtedly a powerful speech, and the clarity in its message couldn’t be clearer, but does it deserve jail time? Being jailed under the law of freedom of speech, for holding a speech criticizing a doctrine, you start realizing how flawed your justice system has become. Who is next? Who will be the next one being jailed for espousing the wrong opinions? What will happen to dissidents in the future? The market of ideas must not be intervened in such a way, or the governments of our time will return to the terrors of the 20th century. Pamela Geller, author of FATWA: Hunted in America, posted an article about it on her website exclaiming about freedom of speech: “Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced. Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not bear being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed while everyone else lives in fear, while other groups curtail their activities to appease the violent group. This results in the violent group being able to tyrannize the others.” She is right. We must be open to civilized discussion, no matter how controversial the ideas may be.
Let us take a moment to recall and appreciate what lessons Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) could give us. Within a society where the earth was commonly believed to be flat and the center of the universe, and abnormal opinions being forbidden as heresy, Bruno was one of the first to propose that the earth not be the center of the universe, but rather that the universe is infinite and without any center. Bruno was tried for heresy by the Roman acquisition, and burned at the stake in 1600. By no means can this be fully compared with contemporary politically/religiously motivated arrests, but it presents the case of how “a door opens” when a new idea is being proposed, and that the prosecution of that idea – and by extension, the shutting of the door – denies the possibility of further inference within the subject. We can all watch the news and realize that Islamic terrorism is a problem, pretty much all around the globe, and that it is by no means the only source of horror this world has ever seen, but we need people like Jayda Fransen, and we need people on the other side, so they can reasonably present their views and arguments to one another and try finding common ground and solutions to perceived problems. Our society, our civilization, is dynamic, it keeps moving, time goes on, old problems fade, others light up, and we need people who can perceive them and try to solve them. The ancestors of the current-day European-Americans in the United States left England for a reason, and the political correctness which has clearly motivated this arrest shows that they have not yet learned what they should have learned for about 300 years ago: Politics based on freedom for the individual.