A UK Independence Party peer, Lord Pearson, has been reported to the Speaker of the House of Lords, Lady D’Souza, for suggesting in a debate in the House that Lee Rigby’s killers had drawn inspiration for their attack from the Koran.
His comments came after a statement by Prime Minister David Cameron on the killing of Fusilier Drummer Lee Rigby by Islamist militants was read out in the House of Lords. In the statement, Cameron opined that the murder was a betrayal of Islam and Britain’s Muslim communities.
In the debate that followed, Pearson, who led Ukip at the last general election, told his fellow peers “My lords, are the government aware that Fusilier Rigby’s murderers quoted 22 verses of the Koran to justify their atrocity? Therefore, is the Prime Minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam? Since the vast majority of Muslims are our peace-loving friends, should we not encourage them to address the violence in the Koran – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad?”
The Leader of the Lords, Lady Stowell of Beeston, who had conveyed the statement to the chamber immediately distanced herself from his remarks, saying “My lords, British Muslims want strong counter-terrorism measures in this country so that everybody in this country who shares British values, whatever their faith, is safe. That is basically all I need to say to the noble lord.”
His comments drew angry criticism from Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, who said: “Virtually everybody has condemned – and I, again, for the record condemn – the atrocious attack on Lee Rigby. This [intervention by Pearson] is just complete nonsense. Obviously he hasn’t read the Koran. Islam is about submission to the Almighty. It is not about war against anybody else.”
“I find it absolutely offensive that this guy is still able to say this. I will actually tomorrow make a complaint formally to the Lords speaker on this issue. This is not tolerable and it should not be tolerated at all.”
Mahmood was joined in his criticism by fellow Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, who said “These are lies. Trying to say this comes from some text in the Qur’an or there is some justification in the religion – it isn’t there. To suggest that Muslims should be apologising and somehow having to take responsibility for the actions of a handful of people is absolutely diabolical. This is nonsensical rubbish.”
But Ukip has stood by Lord Pearson, arguing that there should be more debate around the content of the Koran. A spokesman said: “What Lord Pearson is doing is calling on Islamic scholars to treat the Koran as Christian scholars treat the Bible – to use it as a subject for debate and discourse around the core message.
“He is talking about how Islamic scholars are constrained by the comprehension that the Koran is the perfect word of God unencumbered by human frailty, unlike the Bible. In contrast the apostles are human and like all human things are prone to error.”
After killing Rigby, Michael Adebolajo crossed the street to make a statement recorded on a passer-by’s mobile phone. Speaking with a London accent he said “Through many passages in the Koran we must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands women have to see the same.”
He also handed a blood-stained letter to witnesses in which he justified his actions and those of his accomplice, Michael Adebolawe. The note began “To my beloved children know that to fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation. The proofs of which are so numerous that but a handful of any of them cuts out the bewitching tongues of the Munafiqeen.
“Do not spend your days in endless dispute with the cowardly and foolish if it means it will delay you meeting Allah’s enemies on the battlefield. Sometimes the cowardly and foolish could be those dearest to you so be prepared to turn away from them.”
It concluded by citing references to 22 passages from the Koran, divided into five groups. They were:
Group 1. 4:69-76, 4:84, 9:41
Group 2. 9:24, 9:39, 9:46, 9:87, 9:93
Group 3. 9:67, 3:173, 47:20, 9:86, 9:31, 9:51-55, 8:5-6, 2:170
Group 4. 3:160, 9:119, 9:123
Group 5. 9:37, 2:216, 3:142
Surah 9:24 reads “Say, [or “O Prophet, tell them”], “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.”