Mathew D'Ancona in The Telegraph:
it is not political correctness that lies behind the ministerial blether and evasion: it is electoral statistics. Much has been made of the large number of Muslim voters in Mr Straw's Blackburn constituency, where his party's vote in last year's general election was down by 12.1 per cent and the performance of the anti-war Lib Dems up by 12.5 per cent. Blackburn was merely a vivid example of a national trend that terrified Labour pollsters.
Now, as flames engulf embassies and British Islamists call for their enemies to be slaughtered, ministers are taking no chances. Nothing must be done to alienate the Muslim vote.
Which leaves the rest of us to resolve such trivial matters as the future of free speech, the prospects for pluralism and the repeated collision of liberal democracy with modern Islamic fundamentalism. After 9/11, Madrid, and July 7 - to name but three horrors - it is no longer possible to shelve such issues as philosophical abstractions. The stakes could hardly be higher; the cost of failure unthinkable.
And in an editorial in the same paper, it is argued:
The successful prosecution of Abu Hamza for incitement to murder brings only partial satisfaction. The cleric uttered his incitements to kill for years before being charged.
Such disquiet as remains hinges upon the political interference in the Hamza case. It was indicative of the Government's obsessive fear of the ramifications of this case that Downing Street chose, unusually, to comment on the rightness of the verdict yesterday. It did not, sadly, comment on whether at an earlier stage political pressure was applied to hold off from such a prosecution.
The only political motivation behind this trial, it appears, was to be found in the reluctance to bring it about.
The Government, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police must now act to allay public fears about the selective application of justice.
It was an egregious error of the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday to add, for his part, that this was not "slam on trial"(sic), but merely Abu Hamza: and that Hamza had misinterpeted the Koran. Such gratuitous post-facto explanations exemplify officialdom's belief that even Muslim criminals require some form of special handling. We are all, theoretically, equal under the law. It is time that those who rule, police and judge us bore that more prominently in mind.
Also see the excellent blog Drinking From Home:
Special Branch wanted to bug Finsbury Park Mosque about 6 years ago, but as one police source put it: "There just wasn't the appetite for it at government level."
And Bedfordshire Police's Guidelines for entering Moslem houses
the Muslim community feels victimized and suspicious of counter terrorist police operations and in the current climate a search at a British Muslim household has the potential to become a critical incident and come under intense scrutiny.
# Rapid entry needs to be the last resort and raids into Muslim houses are discouraged for a number of religious dignity reasons.
# Police should seek to avoid looking at unclad Muslim women and allow them an opportunity to dress and cover their heads.
# For reasons of dignity officers should seek to avoid entering occupied bedrooms and bathrooms even before dawn.
# Use of police dogs will be considered serious desecration of the premises and may necessitate extensive cleaning of the house and disposal of household items.
# Advice should be sought before considering the use of cameras and camcorders due to the risk of capturing individuals, especially women, in inappropriate dress.
# Muslim prisoners should be allowed to take additional clothing to the station.
# If people are praying at home officers should stand aside and not disrupt the prayer. They should be allowed the opportunity to finish.
# Officers should not take shoes into the houses, especially in areas that might be kept pure for prayer purposes.
# In the current climate the justification for pre-dawn raids on Muslim houses needs to be clear and transparent.
# Non-Muslims are not allowed to touch holy books, Qurans or religious artifacts without permission. Where possible, Muslim officers in a state of 'Wudhu' (preparation before prayer) should be used for this purpose.
So if the fake suicide bomber and drug entrepreneur Omar Khayam had lived in Beds, hidden his drugs in a hollowed out Quran and refused permission for a search team to touch it, he'd have avoided prosecution?
In Britain, today, we do not have equality before the law.
Much is made of the idea that Moslems underachieve educationally and have higher unemployment than the rest of the population because they are discriminated against. In fact, a racist cannot tell an Asian Moslem from an Asian Hindu, and the latter group score higher than average on both counts.
The truth of it is that Moslems underachieve because of problems within their own culture, and they have actually managed to entrench a privileged position within British society and the law, from the secure citadel of which they can continue to do badly, unchallenged and self-pitying. This does not benefit the Moslem girls who are taken out of school at 14 to be married off to illiterate Pakistani men, it does not benefit the Moslem women whose postal votes were taken from them by their "owners" and filled in for them. It does not benefit decent Moslems who do work and contribute. And it is storing up a horrible and explosive legacy for everyone in British society, Moslem, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh or atheist, male or female, whether or not they are a Labour supporter.
It has been said that a society gets the government it deserves. Do we really deserve the present Labour administration?