The UK government should provide a special platform for Muslim leaders enabling them to clarify the modern meaning of Islam and “cast the extremists out”, according to former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch.
Lord Pearson, who led UKIP in 2009 and 2010, announced in August that he was working on a new guide to Islam which he claimed would re-educate Britain and challenge some of the misconceptions about the religion.
He told the House of Lords today his published “short summary” of Islam will help address the “the seriousness of our domestic situation.”
His suggestion that there should be an “open debate” on the accuracy of his report, and the need for Muslim leaders to “clarify” their religion, was attacked on social media and then rejected by peers inside the Chamber.
UKIP Peer wants “Muslim leaders” to clarify the meaning of Islam. Proving, beyond all doubt that Lord Pearson knows fuck all about religion.
— Otto English (@Otto_English) November 5, 2015
Lord Pearson began by claiming that “where there is contradiction in the Qur’an, its later, more violent verses outweigh its admirably peaceful early texts.”
Addressing Tory minister Lord Ahmad, he continued: “Together with some Qur’anic scholars I have written a short summary of Islam which I will send to him and we are asking the Guardian newspaper to hold an open debate as to its accuracy.
“Given the seriousness of our domestic situation couldn’t the Government itself sponsor a council of our Muslim leaders in which they could clarify the modern meaning of their religion and cast the extremists out of Islam?”
Lord Ahmed spoke in reply and said he “look[ed] forward to receiving the noble Lord’s summary of the great religion of Islam” before adding: “Perhaps in his reflection he would have also noted that with the exception of one verse in the Holy Qur’an, every verse in the holy Qur’an starts with the words ‘In the name of God, the gracious most merciful’, which underlines the true sentiments and principle of that religion.”
Former Tory chancellor Lord Lamont blasted the call for the government to underwrite a “council of Muslim leaders” as “totally inappropriate”.
Fellow Tory peer Baroness Mobarik also scorned the idea. She said: “Such a debate as he advocates could be divisive and further exacerbate the current rise in Islamophobia.
“I, like the vast majority of the 1.6billion Muslims around the world, was taught that peace, compassion and obeying the law of the land are fundamental. To me, that’s the nature of Islam.”
Her comments were echoed by the scathing coverage offered by the Huffington Post.
This is not the first time that Lord Pearson has worked to draw attention to Islam’s role in modern Britain.
In 2009 he joined Baroness Caroline Cox in inviting Dutch politican Geert Wilder to the House of Lords to show the film Fitna.
When then-Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith blocked Mr Wilder’s entry to the UK, Lady Cox and Lord Pearson accused the government of pandering to militant Islam.