Last November 11, two British Muslims, purportedly members of an organization calling itself “Muslims Against Crusades” (MAC), were arrested under the UK Public Order Act. They were accused of burning three oversized poppies at a Remembrance Day ceremony and interrupting a two-minute moment of silence with such chants as “Burn, burn, British soldiers, British soldiers, burn in hell!” and “British soldiers: murderers! British soldiers: rapists! British soldiers: terrorists!” Last week, one of the two activists, Emdadur Choudhury, was found guilty under Section 5 of the Public Order Act of burning the poppies in a way that was likely to cause “harassment, harm or distress” to those who witnessed it, and was fined £50. . . . While it is very tempting for Muslims, and those sympathetic to the situation of Muslims in Europe, to see a case like this as evidence of double-standards—Muslim speech is suppressed on grounds of injury to non-Muslims, while the reverse is not; speech injurious to secular affect is suppressed, while speech injurious to religious affect is not—this might also be an occasion for some general reflection on the problem of injurious speech in morally pluralist contexts.Read the rest of Poppies and Prophets.
Andrew March is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University and an Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Law at Yale Law School. His research and teaching interests are in the areas of political theory; contemporary philosophical liberalism; Islamic political thought; Islamic law; religion and political theory; and comparative political theory. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Oxford. His book, Islam and Liberal Citizenship (Oxford University Press, 2009), is an exploration of Islamic juridical discourse on the rights, loyalties and obligations of Muslim minorities in liberal polities. It won the 2009 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion from the American Academy of Religion (Constructive-Reflective Studies Category).