Matt Frei is Leading Britain's Conversation.
7 May 2017, 13:49
Stephen Fry is facing a blasphemy probe in Ireland after a viewer claimed his outspoken comments about God two years ago were blasphemous. Maajid is fuming.
Police in Ireland are investigating Stephen Fry after a viewer claimed Fry's branding of God as a "maniac" on a TV show two years ago was blasphemous.
The actor and comedian could face a maximum penalty of a fine of 25,000 euros (£22,000) under Ireland's 2009 Defamation Act.
Maajid Nawaz cannot believe it.
He said: "The sheer hypocrisy of this, the sheer idiocy of this, makes me completely, as you can hear probably in my voice, enraged.
"First off, I'd like to say to, you dear listeners, I'd like to- this liberal, openminded, Muslim man with a microphone, would like to say to you: the hypocrisy of religious God-botherers, who think they have the right to preach and proselytise their view of God being the most kind, the most merciful, the most magnificent, the most omnipotent, the most omnipresent, the one and only love of their lives.
"They have the right to preach this, they believe, to everybody else, whether invited or uninvited, often you see them on the street stalls. Distributing leaflets, telling you how good God is.
"They have the right to preach this, and yet an atheist doesn't have the right to preach his view on God? That he doesn't like God, that he thinks God is, as Stephen Fry said, an utter maniac?
"How is it that a religious person can grant themselves the right to preach, while denying the right of an atheist to speak to their own beliefs. So that's point number one. The sheer hypocrisy of this. And it's an embarrassment.
"It's an embarrassment that in Ireland this law even exists. But the other point I'd like to say about blasphemy, is that it's a victimless crime. Who are you really hurting?
"Who did Stephen Fry really hurt? I'll tell you who is being hurt. You know one of the most oppressed minorities in the world today are atheists.
"If you look to America, more people, when surveyed, this is just a fact, I'm telling you stats, more people when surveyed, discriminate against atheists in America, than they even do against Muslims and Jews.
"There has never been, I think until Trump, who may well be an atheist, there had never been an atheist President in the United States. Atheists in Pakistan, Egypt, and other Muslim majority countries, are regularly hounded.
"In Bangladesh, a list was produced, basically telling jihadists to go and hunt out and seek out people that were merely accused of atheism, and about ten or thirteen of them were murdered, because their names were put on this list.
"Saudi Arabia has deemed atheism a terrorism offence. So when we talk about blasphemy, which is a victimless crime, the real victims here, are the atheists, which in most Muslim majority countries in the world are criminalised. Are criminalised.
"Yet religion still has state sanction even here in the United Kingdom, because the official religion is the Church of England, it's the atheists who are discriminated against.
"And why are you so insecure? God-botherer, who complained about Stephen Fry, why are you so insecure? If your God truly is omnipotent, omnipresent, all powerful, all knowing, and all everything you can ever think of, then surely, surely the minuscule Stephen Fry, in comparison miniscule to this great God, you know his comments on your God will basically deflect like the wings of batfink?
"You know, whose wings are made of steel, it won't touch him at all, why on earth do you think God is so weak, that he would be harmed by the words of a comedian? Whereas those atheists who are being killed across the world, they are genuinely in danger.
"That's where your focus should be. So blasphemy is a victimless crime. Then the other thing I'd like to remind you of, is the history of this, the history of blasphemy laws and hounding people for heresy, you know, was not the Spanish Inquisition enough for you?
"Were not the witch hunts in this country, during medieval times, enough for you? Can we stop going after people because of their thoughts? Because of their opinions?
"And truthfully offence, you may have been offended by this, but offence isn't given, offence is taken. You, Godbotherer, who complained about Stephen Fry, decided to take offence on behalf of a God, who is above taking offence, because he's this omnipotent, omnipresent, all powerful, all knowing being that you've said he is.
"So actually it's you who's been bothered, it's you who has the insecurity. It's you who is weak, it's you who has chosen to take offence, because offence is not given, it is taken.
"And yeah, fine, you're offended, you've got the right to be offended, you have every right to be offended, but you have no right to tell me, or anyone else, not to offend you."