Sunday, February 12, 2006

Changes in Public Opinion

There is a change in the zeitgeist. When once it was hard to find more than the odd person who could see the point of not saying "Well, of course the 7/7 bombers had their reasons", the The Sunday Times now reports that a full 86% of people think the protests to the cartoons were "a gross overreaction" and "76% said the police should have arrested those carrying offensive or provocative banners"- reactions which in this case seem pretty reasonable.

More worrying though is the fact that "by ten to one, people say that recent events have made them less tolerant of other religions. " This may not be altogether surprising when we read that a leading Muslim cleric, Hamid Ali who publicly condemned the July 7th London bombs, was filmed privately praising the bombers, but it seems essential for dealing with the problem that, even if it is difficult to do so, the principle of making a distinction between peaceable, law-abiding people of faith, and those who incite and enact violence, should be held in the front of people's minds, for to lose this is to lose the principle of rational tolerance for which we should be prepared to stand.

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