Lord Pearson of Rannoch and former leader of UKIP, the respectable face of the British Right, has a track record of outrageous remarks on Islam and Britain, for example “the Muslims are breeding 10 times faster than us…”. Together with Baroness Cox, he hosted Geerth Wilders’ visit to Parliament in March 2010, describing the Dutch Islamophobe as “a very great man”.
Pearson’s speech in the Lords on 19 November 2013 however reached now lows: “But there is a problem within Islam—from the adherents of an ideology that is a strain within Islam… I am afraid this strain is not the province of a few extremists. It has at its heart a view about religion and about the interaction between religion and politics that is not compatible with pluralistic, liberal, open-minded societies….as Muhammad went through life, he became steadily more of a conquering warrior, and the messages that he received and what he said and did became progressively more bellicose and violent…I fear that the dark side is moving strongly within Islam…If we come home to the United Kingdom, we see large and growing Muslim communities which are set against integration with the rest of us; we see thousands of home-grown potential terrorists; we see Sharia law running de facto in our land; and we see a birth rate several times higher than ours, to which our democracy is already exposed….”
Fortunately many Peers responded robustly to such misrepresentation and mischief-making:
Lord Sheikh:… If we demonise Islam or any other religion, we are doing a disservice to the concept of religion as a whole and the societies that embrace it.
Baroness Uddin: Assalamualikum wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barkatahu. Peace be upon you all. This is the fundamental doctrine and teaching of Islam, so how is it that, again and again, we are forced to defend the beauty of our faith?…I believe in free speech, so today I have borne the seething hatred of Islam from the noble Lord, Lord Pearson. It is time that we reclaimed our pride as a multifaith, multiracial society where we now take collective responsibility against the subjugation of all our faiths.
Lord Ahmed: …In an interview in 2009, the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, stated: ‘Muslims are breeding ten times faster than us. To me, this dehumanising language echoes the anti-Semitic comments made about Jews in the 1920s. When the noble Lord says “ten times faster than us”, what does he mean by “us”? Would he separate British Muslims from the rest of British society? Millions of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs served in the British Armed Forces across two world wars. British Muslims have also served and died in Afghanistan….I want to remind noble Lords of a quotation: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. …You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might … You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: it is victory, victory at all costs … victory, however long and hard the road may be”. That is not Lord Ahmed calling for jihad in the House of Lords or threatening the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, as he claimed in Washington DC on 28 October 2009. This is our great war-time leader, the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in the House of Commons on 13 May 1940.
Lord Triesman: …in introducing this debate the noble Lord [Pearson] talked about the “dark side” and birth rates of people who are, obviously, not quite as good as us, people stirring up hate and “red hot” people striving against us, people who we will finally see looking down the barrel of a gun at us, the plight of Christians, and so on. These are all characterisations which, candidly, should have no place in the debates in this country and our Parliament.
Baroness Warsi: ..The noble Lord [Pearson referred extensively to the sword verses in the Koran. These are often cited by critics to demonstrate that Islam is violent in its very nature. These same verses are also selectively used, or abused, by religious extremists to develop a theology of hate and intolerance and to legitimise unconditional warfare against Muslims and non-Muslims. It is not surprising that the Koran, like the Hebrew Scriptures or the Old Testament, has verses that address fighting and the conduct of war. However, like all scriptures, Islamic sacred texts must be read within the social and political context in which they were revealed….Deep, entrenched anti-Muslim bigotry goes against everything this great nation stands for—the idea that Islam is a particularly violent creed and therefore an irrational reaction to it is somehow appropriate. I am concerned that the deeper Islamophobia seeps into our culture, the easier becomes the task of extremists recruiting. I invite the noble Lord to reflect on this….Collective punishment for co-religionists is wrong. That is what I said in Georgetown. Collective requirement of a community to be a constant apologist for its co-religionists is also wrong. As the UK’s first ever Minister for Faith and Communities, it is my job to ensure that freedom of religion and belief remains at the top of the Government’s agenda both at home and internationally.