WATCH: Nick Clegg silences radio caller who tries to justify Charlie Hebdo shootings
Nick Clegg responded strongly to a radio caller who tried to justify yesterday’s Paris shooting, condemning the suggestion that the cartoons were the “straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Yesterday, gunmen killed twelve people, after attacking the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical French magazine that famously published a cartoon of a gay Muslim kiss.
Speaking on LBC, the Deputy Prime Minister took a call from a man named Omar who asked whether the cartoons in question “were the straw that broke the camel’s back”, suggesting that the media had treated the killings “superficially”. He said: “When ministers etc. start talking about what’s happened there, why do they never talk about everything else that’s going on? And then this happens at the end of it.
“I’m sure when you look into these people, they claim to be defending the honour of the Prophet… It’s not just the love of the Prophet which caused this action. It’s a lot more. This is always taken out of the discussion and they just focus on the cartoons and it’s just doing a disservice to the reality of how 1.4bn Muslims around the world feel.”
Interrupting, Nick Clegg said: “I’m sorry, Omar, I’ve got to interrupt. I think if I understand you correctly, I cannot express to you how strongly I disagree with you. There can be no excuse, no reason, no explanation… They have killed cartoonists who have done nothing more than drawings which they so happen to find offensive.
“Here’s the bottom line, Omar, at the end of the day in a free society people have to be free to offend each other. You cannot have freedom unless people are free to offend each other. We have no right not to be offended. That fundamental principle of being free to offend people – and not saying somehow that you have a right not be offended in a democratic, open society such as ours is exactly what was under threat by these murderous barbarians. To even suggest that there is a rationale, an explanation, a motive that somehow absolves them or sheds greater light on such a horrific, cold-hearted, cowardly act, I find that outrageous.”
The caller then said: “You’re absolutely right… It’s not just the cartoons – no one is saying it is just the cartoons – it is absolutely horrific what has happened. But why is the rest of discussion not brought in? If they [the gunmen] feel that, look – America, they were complicit in torture globally. It’s all of these things together, Iraq being invaded…”
To which Mr Clegg responded: “Omar for heaven’s sake don’t mix things… Of course it is utterly wrong… the way in which it now appears that the American intelligence agencies and others according to that report were doing things which are totally unacceptable in a law-abiding society. But to somehow mix that in any way with the perverted things that must have been going on in the heads of these individuals? To go into a newspaper office and shoot cartoonists, I mean, that you’re even drawing the link I find so inexplicable. There is no link which can in any way seek to explain such a random, such a cruel, such a cowardly act as what we saw in Paris yesterday.”
A clip was played of Nigel Farage, who said: “The real question is this – we in Britain, and I’ve seen some evidence of it in some other European countries too, have pursued a really rather gross policy of multiculturalism. What I mean by that is, we have encouraged people who have come from different cultures to remain within those cultures and not to integrate fully within our communities.”
Clegg responded: “I just find it very.. I am dismayed really that Nigel Farage immediately thinks on the back of the bloody murders that we saw on the streets of Paris yesterday that his first reflex is to seek to make political points. Let’s remember – if this does come down to, and we have touched on this already in response to Omar’s question, and indeed Nigel Farage’s assertions – if this does come down to two individuals who have perverted the cause of Islam to their own bloody ends, let’s remember – the greatest antidote to the perversion of that great world religion Islam are law abiding British Muslims themselves. To immediately somehow suggest or to imply that many British Muslims who I know feel fervently British, but who are also very proud of their Muslim faith, are somehow part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, I think is firmly grabbing the wrong end of the stick.
Earlier today, a London preacher who previously called for gay people to be stoned to death wrote an article defending the murders which took place at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.