Hitchens on Burqagate: British State ‘Loathes Christianity’, But ‘Fears Islam’

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Peter Hitchens, brother of the late ‘anti-theist’ writer Christopher Hitchens, has waded into the debate surrounding Boris Johnson’s burqa comments, declaring it is Christianity, not Islam, which is “under siege” in Great Britain.

Despite a youthful commitment to Trotskyism, the British columnist’s political life has diverged sharply from his left-liberal older brother’s.

A conservative commentator and journalist of some note in his own right, the younger Hitchens has won the Orwell Prize in part for his foreign reporting from China, which he regards as a sinister left-wing dictatorship. He has also published books on a range of topics, including the so-called ‘war on drugs’ — which he sees as a necessary but largely unfought conflict — and the hostility of the present-day establishment to religion in general and Christianity in particular.

His column on the reaction to Brexiteer heavyweight Boris Johnson’s recent criticism of the “ridiculous” burqa touched upon this theme, comparing the media’s sustained coverage of this supposed scandal to its indifference to the treatment of a Christian nurse who was sacked from a National Health Service (NHS) hospital recently.

Sarah Kuteh, Hitchens notes, was fired because she “inappropriately gave a Bible to a patient” and only reinstated after penning a grovelling self-denunciation, in which she promised she would make sure to keep her beliefs to herself in future:

To regain the favour of the commissars, she has had to write a ‘reflective’ screed in which she “incorporated your obligations in relation to having clear professional boundaries and not expressing your personal beliefs in an inappropriate way” and “set out the steps you have taken to address the deficiencies highlighted in your practice. You have addressed how you would act differently in the future.” In other words, she has confessed her thought-crime and promised not to repeat it.

This contrasts sharply with the defence of Islamist women’s right to make an ostentatious display of their faith by wearing full face veils, offered by officials up to and including the Prime Minister herself, who has said Johnson should apologise for his remarks.

Hitchens observed that Christianity was “pretty much the origin of modern nursing” but has now fallen victim to a “cultural revolution” which regards the Christian faith with “special loathing”.

“I doubt the same horrible process would have been imposed on a nurse who suggested her patients attended a mosque, or gave them a copy of the Koran,” he observed.

“For while the British State loathes Christianity, it fears Islam. So do lots of other people.”

Concern about the threat to free speech posed by those who would silence criticism of Islam and certain Islamic practices is something Peter Hitchens shared with his late brother, despite their differences on other issues.

Warning against the propagation of the most extreme strains of Islam in the West by foreign actors such as the Saudi government some years ago, Christopher Hitchens told his audience to beware efforts to introduce the term ‘Islamophobia’ into the public discourse, predicting it would be used to silence dissent.

“Resist it while you still can and before the right to complain is taken away from you, which will be the next thing,” he urged.

“You will be told that you can’t complain because you’re ‘Islamophobic’. The term is already being introduced into the culture as if it was an accusation of race hatred, for example, or bigotry — whereas it’s only the objection to the preachings of a very extreme and absolutist religion.

“Watch out for these symptoms. They are the symptoms of surrender, very often ecumenically offered to you by men of God in other robes; Christian, and Jewish, and smarmy ecumenical — these are the ones who will hold open the gates for the barbarians.

“The barbarians never take the city until someone holds the gates open for them, and it’s your own preachers who will do it for you, and your own multicultural authorities who will do it for you. Resist it while you can.”

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