The Sketch: These are atrocities that are producing civilities

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The Independent Online

Magnificent police operation, Keith Vaz said, yes of course it was marvellous (we might remember, though, a bomber's mother did ring in with their address). And yes, of course, it's appalling the attacks on mosques that Mr Vaz pointed out (a Catholic, himself, as a matter of interest).

Michael Howard ramped it up by saying that anyone who reaches for a stone to throw at a mosque is the enemy of all of us. And that the bombers' Islam was a perversion of Islam.

I suppose Parliament has to say these things to keep up the structures of civilisation. But what if it isn't a perversion of Islam? What if it's a distillation of it? Thou shalt not permit an unbeliever to live, sort of thing? I speak now as a sketch writer and the Prophet rated sketch writers very low, lower even than the Speaker ranks us. In fact, were it up to the Prophet (and possibly the Speaker) I would be skinned and beaten to death with my own shin bones, as long as my plea for clemency had been heard favourably.

There is a desert-dwelling, Old Testament ferocity in the Koran that is very comfortable with violence. After 9/11, we were told that the Book taught that one man killing another was equivalent to killing the whole of mankind. But that turns out to be dependent on a New Labour ellipsis. There is an edit in the middle of the admonition which says killing is bad unless there's been any villainy to provoke it. Any rudeness to the Prophet, or dancing on the wrong day, or that business with the goat ... then it's death, death and more death. Anything is textually excusable. Tony Blair, of all people, knows that.

So when Mr Blair says, "Moderate Islam is the true voice of Islam" he is only saying what moderates believe. It's going to be up to him to "mobilise moderate Muslim opinion", and change the constitution of the Koran. He did it to the Labour Party, so if anyone can pull it off, it will be him.

Back to the paradox. The Bill outlawing Religious Hatred had its Third Reading this week. Muslims believe it will be used to protect them from people inciting hatred against Islam. But wouldn't the most likely prosecution be against a jihadist mullah who spurs young men on to these pointless acts of sorrow?