It has been a distressing spectacle all round. It isn’t that our politicians have not been “debating” the “issues.” By now we have a fair idea of where they all stand on the threat of terrorism and how a free and democratic society should respond to it. Nor can anyone complain that the question of how to reconcile religious obligations and individual rights, diversity and unity, has not received a thorough airing. I would even go so far as to say there have been valid points made on all sides.
An ugly confrontation unfolded on the streets of Newcastle, England, last weekend.
It was the most stunning volte-face since Libya's foreign minister Mousa Kousa defected to the west in 2011. Or perhaps since Sol Campbell left Spurs for Arsenal on a free transfer in 2001. On 8 October, Tommy Robinson (aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, aka Andrew Mc- Master, aka Paul Harris), the co-founder and leader of the English Defence League (EDL), quit the far-right group and joined hands with the Quilliam Foundation, a 'counter-extremism' think tank.
The news became public only a few days ago - French authorities asking the European Parliament to lift the immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen so that she can be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.
In 2010, the president of the National Front party likened Muslim street prayers in France to the Nazi occupation, sparking widespread condemnation.
Many Muslim leaders have blamed Le Pen’s fiery rhetoric on Islam and immigration for a rise in Islamic intolerance and xenophobia in France. But she insists she is neither a racist nor xenophobic, but simply a patriot.