This article is partly based on the excellent research undertaken by Graham Senior-Milne concerning the legal status of Islam in the UK.
Having considered all the arguments from Graham Senior-Milne’s research, it becomes obvious that if only the legal system would take these arguments into account, and find in our favour (as it undoubtedly should) then in addition to quashing the above-mentioned cases of Religiously Aggravated Harassment, we would solve a great many of our problems with Islam overnight. Considering that Islam is shaping up to be the world’s most intractable problem of the 21st century, this would be a most worthwhile goal, and one arguably deserving of a great deal of attention.
The basic argument is as follows: Islam should not be considered a religion in UK law because it does not meet certain criteria laid down by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) which is currently the highest authority in our legal system.
In a case going back to 1982 it was stated that: in order to qualify for protection under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (Freedom of thought,conscience and religion), religious and philosophical beliefs must be “worthy of respect in a democratic society, be not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.”
If it is lawful to protect religious beliefs that meet these criteria, it must be unlawful to protect (via legal recognition) religious beliefs that do not meet these criteria, because such beliefs must either be not worthy of respect in a democratic society (Islam is unquestionably anti-democratic) and/or incompatible with human dignity (the dignity of women, for instance, who are mere chattels in Islam) and/or conflict with the fundamental rights of others (such as gays, including gay Muslims, who, under Sharia law, must be killed).
While Islam has been treated as a religion in numerous cases over the years, this issue has never been argued before a court; courts have just assumed that Islam is a religion in law. In other words, there is no binding precedent on this issue.
This may sound surprising, but you can perhaps understand why courts would avoid this issue like the plague, even if it occurred to them that they might consider it in the first place. But courts do not hesitate to apply these criteria to other philosophical or religious beliefs – so why should Islam be exempt?
Consider the sheer idiocy of the proposition that a set of beliefs which are incompatible with the human rights of others (say, sacrificing babies on the first Tuesday of every month), which would not be protected under Article 9 ECHR as philosophical beliefs, would be protected simply because they are ‘religious beliefs’.