Tag Archives: law

Olympic torch goes out.

Heard this story from Reuters Paris just now and it summed up events for me in a way. After a day of hearing radio and tv news bulletins about incidents involving protests about the Olympic torch and China’s human rights record particularly in Tibet, and an hour or so spent personally musing about how big a percentage of all British manufactured goods is sourced directly from China, this morning I heard a leading policeman, Commander Bob Broadhurst of the Met Police, on Radio 4 differentiating between pro and anti torch demonstrators – in a “goodies and baddies” kind of fashion. The pro demonstrators were “lawful” and the anti were not, apparently. I suppose the law exists to protect property at the end of the day. But……..Chinese property? British property manufactured in China…….? All I can say is, despite the presence of Chinese security guards protecting the torch, I couldn’t help but think (as Jane Austen would say) that you couldn’t protest in anything like this way if you were actually in China. And the lights were going out all over Europe……..

Security officials extinguished the Olympic torch on Monday on the Paris leg of its journey, disrupted by protesters against China’s crackdown on Tibet.

A police source said organizers were forced to put the torch on a bus to protect it from the hundreds of protesters who swarmed the procession after it set off from the Eiffel Tower.

The torch had to be extinguished because of a technical problem, a police spokesman told Reuters. After a brief interruption the relay resumed with the torch alight.

A member of the French Greens party had earlier been restrained by police when trying to grab the torch from the first of 80 torch bearers, former world 400 meters hurdles champion Stephane Diagana.

Escorted by security, Diagana was wearing a badge reading “For a better world”.

Several hundred demonstrators waving banners gathered on the Trocadero esplanade, just the other side of the river Seine from the Eiffel Tower, where the relay got under way at 6:35 a.m EDT.

France has deployed more than 3,000 police officers, some on roller blades, along the 28-km (17 miles) Paris leg of relay, to the Charlety stadium, on the southern edge of town, where the torch was due to arrive at 11:00 a.m EDT.

“Boycott Chinese goods” and “Save Tibet” read some of the banners held by the demonstrators, watched by police in riot gear and prevented by barriers from getting near the courseWe are doing our best but it will take the world to put pressure on China to help bring democracy and human rights to Tibet,” said Phurbu Dolker, a 21-year-old Tibetan refugee.

Thousands of protesters waving Tibetan flags and shouting “Shame on China” tried to disrupt the torch’s run through London on Sunday, the British leg of the international relay billed by Beijing as the “harmonious journey”.

French human rights minister, Rama Yade, denied on Saturday that President Nicolas Sarkozy would boycott the Games’ opening ceremony unless China started talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and released political prisoners.

The Olympic flame is expected to remain a magnet for anti-Chinese protests ahead of the August Games in Beijing.

The flame is due to return to Beijing on August 6, two days before it will be used to light the cauldron at the Olympic opening ceremony.

Antidisestablishmentarianism revisited.

Of course we all know that antidisestablishmentarianism means
a political philosophy opposed to the separation of a religious group (“church”) and a government (“state”), especially with regard to the belief held by those in 19th century England opposed to separating the Anglican church from the civil government.At times like this when the head of the Church of England starts to pontificate (sic) about shariah law in England (today’s Sun headline : What a burkah), the issue of homogeneity of church and state is brought to the fore. Especially when you read this very clearly written piece about the subject from a specialist blog from Denis J. Wiechman, Jerry D. Kendall, and Mohammad K. Azarian who I believe study at the University of Illinois:

The most difficult part of Islamic Law for most westerners to grasp is that there is no separation of church and state. The religion of Islam and the government are one. Islamic Law is controlled, ruled and regulated by the Islamic religion. The theocracy controls all public and private matters. Government, law and religion are one. There are varying degrees of this concept in many nations, but all law, government and civil authority rests upon it and it is a part of Islamic religion. There are civil laws in Muslim nations for Muslim and non-Muslim people. Shar’iah is only applicable to Muslims. Most Americans and others schooled in Common Law have great difficulty with that concept.The U.S. Constitution (Bill of Rights) prohibits the government from “establishing a religion.” The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded in numerous cases that the U.S. Government can’t favour one religion over another. That concept is implicit for most U.S. legal scholars and many U.S. academicians believe that any mixture of “church and state” is inherently evil and filled with many problems. They reject all notions of a mixture of religion and government.

The blog that comes from is here.

I invite you to contrast the lucid and clear quality of that with the liberal intellectual tones of “our own” church spokesperson, as published in the guardian where you can read the text in full if you so please.

arch of cantThe first objection to a higher level of public legal regard being paid to communal identity is that it leaves legal process (including ordinary disciplinary process within organisations) at the mercy of what might be called vexatious appeals to religious scruple. A recent example might be the reported refusal of a Muslim woman employed by Marks and Spencer to handle a book of Bible stories. Or we might think of the rather more serious cluster of questions around forced marriages, where again it is crucial to distinguish between cultural and strictly religious dimensions. While Bradney rightly cautions against the simple dismissal of alleged scruple by judicial authorities who have made no attempt to understand its workings in the construction of people’s social identities, it should be clear also that any recognition of the need for such sensitivity must also have a recognised means of deciding the relative seriousness of conscience-related claims, a way of distinguishing purely cultural habits from seriously-rooted matters of faith and discipline, and distinguishing uninformed prejudice from religious prescription. There needs to be access to recognised authority acting for a religious group: there is already, of course, an Islamic Shari’a Council, much in demand for rulings on marital questions in the UK; and if we were to see more latitude given in law to rights and scruples rooted in religious identity, we should need a much enhanced and quite sophisticated version of such a body, with increased resource and a high degree of community recognition, so that ‘vexatious’ claims could be summarily dealt with. The secular lawyer needs to know where the potential conflict is real, legally and religiously serious, and where it is grounded in either nuisance or ignorance. There can be no blank cheques given to unexamined scruples.

The second issue, a very serious one, is that recognition of ‘supplementary jurisdiction’ in some areas, especially family law, could have the effect of reinforcing in minority communities some of the most repressive or retrograde elements in them, with particularly serious consequences for the role and liberties of women. The ‘forced marriage’ question is the one most often referred to here, and it is at the moment undoubtedly a very serious and scandalous one; but precisely because it has to do with custom and culture rather than directly binding enactments by religious authority, I shall refer to another issue. It is argued that the provision for the inheritance of widows under a strict application of sharia has the effect of disadvantaging them in what the majority community might regard as unacceptable ways. A legal (in fact Qur’anic) provision which in its time served very clearly to secure a widow’s position at a time when this was practically unknown in the culture becomes, if taken absolutely literally, a generator of relative insecurity in a new context (see, for example, Ann Elizabeth Mayer, Islam and Human Rights. Tradition and Politics, 1999, p.111). The problem here is that recognising the authority of a communal religious court to decide finally and authoritatively about such a question would in effect not merely allow an additional layer of legal routes for resolving conflicts and ordering behaviour but would actually deprive members of the minority community of rights and liberties that they were entitled to enjoy as citizens; and while a legal system might properly admit structures or protocols that embody the diversity of moral reasoning in a plural society by allowing scope for a minority group to administer its affairs according to its own convictions, it can hardly admit or ‘license’ protocols that effectively take away the rights it acknowledges as generally valid.

You might find him a wishy washy liberal, but IMHO he is well read and at least he had the balls to raise the issue in the first place – whilst others are only keen to bluster in his wake.