Artillery Row

Stabbed for critiquing Islam

This is not the first time Hatun has been assaulted at Speakers’ Corner

This Sunday at Speakers’ Corner, the well-known “home of free speech”, Christian evangelist Hatun Tash was brutally stabbed by a man wearing a black Islamic robe. Hatun collapsed with blood running down her face and arm. She had to be taken to hospital to get her wounds treated. It is almost a miracle that she survived and wasn’t more seriously injured. As Hatun herself has said: “Watching the video, the intention is clearly to kill me.”

Hatun is a regular attender at Speakers’ Corner. She is well-known for her bold preaching and her in-depth knowledge and understanding of Islam. She is very effective at what she does and has seen many Muslims convert to Christianity through her ministry. She was engaging in a friendly discussion with a Muslim when she was stabbed.

Preaching with blood streaming down her face
When she recovered from her collapse, with blood streaming down her face and her arm, incredibly she continued to preach. She said

Dear Muslim people. Lord Jesus doesn’t need me. Allah is in need of you.  … Cutting people’s arms is not going to help you. Muslim people, you know how much it hurts when you run away from Lord Jesus Christ? It’s not about the blood on my hand. … It is unacceptable you are running away from Lord Jesus Christ. It is unacceptable, 21st century you haven’t repented. And what you do is chop people’s hands off. God doesn’t need me. God can do better job without me.

What passion and bravery!

Not the first time
This is not the first time that Hatun has been assaulted at Speakers’ Corner. She has been hit, dragged to the floor, had her glasses broken, and had books stolen from her. None of her assailants have ever been arrested or even cautioned. The attacker this time has so far not been caught either. Meanwhile Hatun has been arrested more than once for committing no crime.

The police consider it prejudicial to refer to a potential criminal’s ethnicity or religion

I wrote in May about how Speakers’ Corner is becoming “Sharia Corner”. Christian evangelist Hatun was then arrested and held in a police cell overnight before being released without charge. She had committed no crime, but she was being critical of Islam. Instead of arresting those threatening her, the police arrested Hatun and held her without any justification for 23 hours. As I wrote then, the police were capitulating to the mob who wanted her removed, and this would only serve to embolden the mobs.

Police think ethnic or religious identification is prejudicial!
A Speakers’ Corner veteran of some 30 years wrote to the police about what is happening there. The email asked whether the Metropolitan Police are “monitoring the activities of the many hot headed Muslim males gathering at the corner every Sunday.”  The author writes of witnessing “people of North African, and Middle Eastern origin, physically assaulting other members of the Islamic religion,” and of witnessing “an Islamic male stab a Christian female speaker in the face.”

The police response to this email is deeply shocking. Detective Inspector Akshay Chibber writes:

I have to advise you that your email contains a number of referrals interpretable as prejudicial and intolerant, based on a person’s religious or other origin. Any further correspondence that alludes to such language will not be responded to.

The police therefore consider it prejudicial to refer to a potential criminal’s ethnicity or religion as a means of identification! This is ridiculous pandering to political correctness in ways which could actually prejudice a police investigation. Perhaps it is no surprise that the police have never arrested any of her assailants!

Provocative preaching
Many commentators have picked up on the fact that she was wearing a Charlie Hebdo T-Shirt on Sunday. This is not the first time she has worn such a T-shirt or used cartoons to mock Islam. Whatever one may think about such tactics, we need to remember that this is not in Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia; this is not even on the High Street, it is at Speakers’ Corner, the home of free speech. A place where provocative material is expected, and frankly where if you are not provocative then no-one will bother listening to you.

It is also a place frequented by professional Muslim apologists who do not shy away from being provocative about Christianity. These are not your average Muslims down the road. They are Islamically trained specifically to critique Christianity. Debates and discussions take place with a very high level of understanding — if you don’t know what you are talking about this will soon be exposed.

Blaming the victim
Just after the brutal attack, some Muslims can be heard saying “she had it coming”. Others have also questioned her motives. This is a form of blaming the victim. She was not being violent or inciting violence. She was engaging in peaceful discussion and debate. She was wearing a cartoon — which, given the rain, actually wasn’t very visible on Sunday. Cartoons of any other person or any other thing are acceptable at Speakers’ Corner. Should there be an exception for Islam? If so, then we are starting to enforce Sharia law in Speakers’ Corner.

Where are the “Je suis Charlie” people now?

Hatun is the most effective Christian evangelist to Muslims that I know. Many Muslims have converted through her ministry. Undoubtedly her effectiveness is partly due to her distinctively provocative style. Hatun’s heart for Muslims can clearly be seen in what she said with blood streaming down her face after she had been attacked. Let’s not forget that Jesus was also very provocative at times (eg. Matthew 23), and ended up being killed because of the anger he stirred up. 

Sharia enforcement through violence
Earlier this year, a school teacher was forced into hiding after he was found to have attempted to teach a lesson about free speech. He showed a cartoon of Muhammad, and we all learnt a powerful lesson about the limitations on free speech in the UK. That teacher remains in hiding to this day.

Last year a teacher was beheaded in France, after showing a cartoon of Muhammad in a class on freedom of expression. Once again, lesson learnt – freedom of expression is limited when it comes to Islam.

It is worth remembering that just a few years ago 3.7 million people marched through Paris led by world leaders, including our Prime Minister at the time, chanting “Je suis Charlie” in support of free speech. Where are they now? Has society now decided to accept limitations on free speech when it comes to Islam?

On Sunday, I think it’s fair to say that an attempt was made on Hatun’s life. I don’t think the cartoon was the focus, but rather her powerful critique of Islam in general. These threats and violence are intended to shut down criticism of Islam. Capitulation to such threats amounts to tacit agreement with a de-facto Islamic blasphemy law.

Threats and attacks are being used to censor what is said about Islam. This is the first step towards sharia law. Our society is at a crossroads. Blaming the victim amounts to acceptance of the path we are going down.

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