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The deeper consternation of the Asia Bibi scandal

5 January 2019

9:00 AM

5 January 2019

9:00 AM

By now you are probably familiar with Asia Bibi. Accused of blasphemy while working in the fields near her home in Pakistan, the mother of four spent eight years on death row. She now seeks refuge in the West from her assassins.

Her bid to come has not been without controversy. Several countries, including Australia, have offered to take her. Others have not, with some notable inclusions.

In November, it was reported Theresa May personally ordered her Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, to back off the case. According to the Home Office, offering Bibi asylum could pose a domestic security threat. An interesting statement, to say the least.

Not unknown for missing an opportunity to cave to Islamist ire, Her Majesty’s government subsequently cast its bid for Most Invertebrate Western Nation 2018 (a hotly contested prize). But wait. What Islamist ire?

No man or woman had taken to the streets to protest Bibi’s release. There has been no lava-spewing Imam doing the media rounds. The meek and mild community leader calling on Downing Street to reverse action is yet to appear on the BBC. So, what’s the issue?

There are a few things that may have weighed on the PMs mind. Perhaps she remembers the warrant for murder of a British novelist pumped out of mosques from Tehran to Bradford in 1989. Or the dormant legion of 23,000 potential Jihadists that currently sit on MI5 watch lists. Or the protests earlier this year outside the US embassy in London, that featured a friendly reminder to the Jews the army of Muhammad is returning. Oh, they only mean Zionists though.

There are plenty more cases that string this eerie tune. So why take Bibi, and risk ensconcing oneself in the nerve-sensitive politics of multiculturalism?


Well, there’s a solution. Don’t take her. Don’t even debate it. Just give in, before a tear has even been shed. And that’s exactly what she did.

May’s embargo precisely demonstrates the values-rot presently within the political class across the West. If it is the case that Britain has a faction within it that implicitly, and often rather explicitly, threatens the security of the nation, should it not be confronted? It should not be the abused mother of four fatuously imprisoned for blasphemy who cannot come to Britain. It should be those that wish her harm that should be reconsidering their place in society.

When stripped to the bone, May’s decision reads something like this: a minority of a minority now has the ability to hold the majority to ransom. It says we will stab and suicide bomb and shoot your cartoonists if you do not comply with our demands. And the majority, led by gelatine legislators, now caves, pre-emptively, to that lesser minority, before it has even threatened to get upset. In our pathological pursuit to live a quiet life, we surrender the fight before it’s even bothered to arrive.

In 2015, a leaked Ministry of Defence report offered a disconcerting peek into British multiculturalism. London would be unable to engage militarily in a variety of foreign lands, it revealed, due to ‘domestic’ factors.

Naturally, the mind wanders. What if Westminster wished to move its embassy to Jerusalem? Or Sir Salman released a 30th Anniversary Special Edition of The Satanic Verses? What if a geostrategic nightmare broke out and Britain was forced to side with India over Pakistan? How hamstrung would the British state be in managing these affairs? Could such propositions even be tabled?

For those living under a rock the past few years, the people likely to get upset about such matters are not too fond of lying down quietly. And, in what may be considered one of the more irritating canonical addendums, the first-class lounge awaits them in paradise, fitted with 72 virgins (‘nothing man-made about that’, quipped the late Christopher Hitchens).

A particular multicultural challenge has recently cropped up on Australia’s radar, too. Last year a quiz crisis broke out, prompting Monash University to withdraw a textbook after it offended some Chinese international students. The University of Sydney decided to get in on the act too, issuing an apology to Chinese students who complained about a map showing disputed territory inside India rather than China.

A disconcerting consequence of the cry-baby brigade is on display here. When you play the victim, you invite others to play, too. The issue is, some participants have real economic and ideological weight. Thus your desire to not offend now invites the Chinese Communist Party to rewrite our history books.

A pleasant surprise in the Bibi affair has been the Canadian Prime Minister. It has been reported that Ottawa is trying to reach a settlement with Islamabad. Gentle Justin can never be accused of lacking compassion. But one detail is worth noting here. The Canadian-Pakistani community is one-tenth that of Britain’s. Trudeau does not face comparable internal pressures to May, as his pool of potential radicals is significantly less. Or maybe that’s being too cynical. Maybe Justin’s conviction to resist the global menace of Islamism drove his decision. He was a boxer once, don’t you know?

Have you noticed how rarely now we are subjected to that dribbling platitude ‘Islam is a religion of peace’? The European renaissance of car-ramming’s and stabbing sprees appears to have dispelled that once-fashionable mantra. But just like the erosion of the Islam-apologetics industry, perhaps the conversation around multiculturalism will follow.

The fact is Asia Bibi is a symbol of a greater struggle – a struggle between freedom and its enemies. A struggle between cultural dynamism, piercing humour, iconoclasts and truth-tellers – and blasphemy death squads, frothing mobs, theocratic ignorance and psychological tyrants. Too few are up for the fight. Theresa May certainly is not.

In the not too distant future, the Foreign Office will likely wish it met its poorly concealed anxiety head on, early on. In the meantime, May and her ilk will continue to abdicate their moral responsibility to appease a bunch of homicidal blackmailers.

And with one great, big robotic, gangling nudge, the can proceeds a little further down the road.

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