Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Britain racist? Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones
Across parts of Germany, running battles between immigrants and neo-Nazis are becoming so frequent that they no longer lead the news.
In France and Belgium, Jewish schools and synagogues require armed guards. In Toulouse, a mosque has been burned to the ground. In Sweden, neo-Nazi thugs warned of a ‘year of violence’ against immigrants.
Racist violence across much of Europe is now becoming almost routine.
So which country has the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe decided to accuse of ‘anti-foreigner sentiment’? You guessed it. The European Commission on Racism and Intolerance, which reports to the Council, says it is alarmed at the ‘intolerant political discourse in the UK, particularly focusing on immigration’.
Seriously? Political discourse in the UK? Let’s compare how politicians talk here with what passes unremarked in other EU states. Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka says: ‘To be honest, we don’t want a large Muslim population here.’ His Slovak counterpart, Robert Fico, is just as blunt: ‘Islam has no place in Slovakia.’
In France, Nicolas Sarkozy calls Islamic dress ‘a provocation’, and promises laws against it. (And, of course, a ban on the wearing of burkas on French beaches sparked huge rows over the summer.)
In Britain, by contrast, Theresa May was cheered by her party members yesterday when she said: ‘I want us to be a country where it doesn’t matter where you were born.’
By what measure is ours an intolerant country? To be sure, we have our bigots, as every nation does. But against whom are we being so harshly judged?