Protesting For What?

Protests in central London in response to the unexpected result of the British General Election have attracted condemnation – as well as enthusiastic professions of solidarity – in recent days. The vandalisation of a Second World War memorial during the “anti-austerity march” was met with outrage from most. And yet some sage commentators suggested glibly […]

CAGE’s Strange Morality

The identification of Isis’s poster boy as the vainglorious murderer Mohammed Emwazi has been attended by a flurry of armchair psychology. It’s been suggested, variously, that Western foreign policy is to blame for creating this furious, alienated young man and that his treatment at the hands of MI5 may be the reason the British graduate […]

Isis and Religious Apologetics

A problem persists in the discussion and analysis surrounding Isis: the refusal of many to concede that theirs is a plausible – though clearly medieval and relatively poorly subscribed – reading of Islam. Barack Obama has insisted that Isis is “not Islamic”; while David Cameron has observed that the militants “are monsters, not Muslims”. It […]

France, Belgium, Denmark: a few thoughts

Since the Paris shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo there has been much talk of provocation. In some cases, European Muslims have been recast as the true victims of the tensions between secular, liberal democracy and their own religious certitude and probity. Causing deep offence, or worse, being discriminatory or racist, is discussed in […]

Eric’s Pickle

Since the murders in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket, thousands of soldiers have been deployed in France and the British secret services are braced for a similar incident in the UK. In this febrile climate, Eric Pickles recently composed a mild but timely missive – sent to all British mosques […]

The Parameters of Laughter

(Illustration by Alex Mellon) Since the slaughter of ten cartoonists and writers (as well as two policemen) in Paris, much has been made of the importance of unity and resistance to division. With Marine Le Pen poised to exploit this terrible trauma to buttress her contempt for multiculturalism and dislike of immigration, caution of this […]

The Interview and Hollywood Cowardice

A group of hackers calling themselves – ironically, I presume – “The Guardians of Peace”, recently succeeded in cowing Hollywood to such an extent that a prominent studio cancelled the release of an upcoming film (The Interview). Theatres refused to show it due to safety concerns. This cyber mob is now widely believed to be […]

Is torture unconscionable?

The recent report into the CIA’s treatment of terrorist suspects by the US Senate Intelligence Committee has reignited discussion of the propriety of America’s behaviour after the devastation of 9/11. But it has also aroused suspicion of a party-political offensive by the Democrat majority Senate, keen to buttress President Obama’s profile as the man who […]

Strange bedfellows and the fight against IS

Footage has recently emerged which suggests that the Iranian airforce is targeting IS locations. This should not be surprising considering the rapacious, brutal nature of the para-military group and its increasing proximity to Iran’s western border. But what is interesting is the resulting alignment of interests, if not alliance, between Iran and the US. After […]

Censorship on Campus?

Was it wrong for two men (Brendan O’Neill and Timothy Stanley) to be offered a platform to discuss abortion rights at Oxford University? And does the prospect of such an event taking place (organised by the Oxford Students for Life, incidentally) raise “security concerns, both physical and mental”, as a spokesman for the college suggested? […]