Hardbeatnews, LONDON, England, Mon. Feb. 27, 2006: ‘Guyanese Mafia’ member and Chairman of the British Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, yesterday called on British Muslims who wanted Sharia Law imposed in parts of the UK to ‘accept the way we do it … or you have to live somewhere else.’
Phillips made the remark on ‘The Jonathan Dimbleby’ program on British TV in the light of the protests throughout the Muslim world and in Britain, over the publication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in a Danish Newspaper.
Phillips, who has not been afraid to court controversy in his three years in charge of the CRE, told Muslims that they must accept that freedom of speech is central to ‘Britishness’ and should be preserved even if it offends people.
“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,” he said, adding its part of the fabric of British life “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.”
Phillips, who was appointed chair of the CRE on 1 March 2003 by the then home secretary David Blunkett, stated that commitment to freedom of expression also allows Muslim preachers to make comments about homosexuality that are offensive to broad segments of the British population.
“One point of British-ness is that people can say what they like about the way we should live, however absurd, however unpopular it is,” he added.
Addressing those who want a separate set of laws – Islamic or Sharia laws – within British Muslim Communities, Phillips was unequivocal in damnation.
“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,” he stated.
Phillips has previously set the ‘cat among the pigeons’ in the race relations industry by pronouncing ‘multiculturalism dead’ and warned that Britain was ‘sleepwalking towards apartheid.’ Both views go firmly against the liberal grain and both previous speeches generated much heated discussion.
Phillips is a trusted New Labor Insider, close to the Blairites, and a prominent member of the so-called ‘Guyanese Mafia’ in British Public life.
He was born in Guyana in 1953, emigrated to the UK where he undertook his primary education but was then sent back to Guyana for his secondary education at the Queen’s College in Georgetown.
Before the CRE, he was a much lauded TV presenter and producer who made the award winning ‘Windrush’ series for the BBC on the mass migration of West Indians to the UK in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.
He is expected to be made a knight or peer on completion of his term at the CRE in a year’s time.
The Danish cartoons, including one showing the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with an ignited fuse, have set off sometimes violent protests around the world.
Fifteen were killed in protests in Nigeria and some 45 around the world, while some 25,000 rallied in Pakistan yesterday urging: “Down with the blasphemer,” “Death to America,” and “End diplomatic ties with European countries.” – Hardbeatnews.com