I was lucky enough to be chatting to Cicero last night, which is always a privilege. Decapitation seems to have done little to still his ability for insightful political thought! Naturally, our conversation turned to the current political climate – and all the strange rumblings emanating from the Labour Party on the subject of Muslims. I worry that Labour will compound our problems with more illiberal legislation. As usual, Cicero cut through the seemingly complex issue with blinding clarity: it is, of course, about freedom.
The single most precious principle of Liberalism is that we protect freedom. We protect everybody’s freedom – including the freedom to follow your religion. We must never lose sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims seek only the right to peacefully follow their faith, and not to be discriminated against.
I am not blind to the fact that there is a tiny minority of people in this country with extreme views, and this includes a tiny minority of islamic extremists. There is also a tiny minority of extreme Christians too. In order that these minorities remain tiny, we must resist all temptation to limit individual freedom. We must demonstrate that ours is an open, tolerant society which respects the individual. A Liberal Britain is one in which the state does not interfere with religious belief, but protects the rights of everyone including followers of any religion or none.