Muslims allowed to protest while Christians are silenced

From: The Rev Mark K Madeley, Ing Head Terrace, Halifax. I WAS staggered to hear about the march by Muslims in Luton against returning troops (Yorkshire Post, March 11). Their placards contained slogans such as "Anglian Soldiers: Butchers of Basra", "Anglian Soldiers: cowards, killers, extremists" and "British government –terrorist government".

What is going on in our country? Free speech is one thing, but it is becoming more and more one-sided. Although GMTV had more than 10,000 text messages condemning

this march, no-one seems to take action.

However, when a Christian speaks out, all hell breaks loose and I can only imagine what would happen if I organised a march through my local town, Halifax, to protest at the number of Christians tortured and executed by Muslims simply for their beliefs. For example, last Friday 22 families in Afghanistan were under a death sentence for believing in Jesus, but I cannot protest.

I would be branded Islamaphobic. I would be accused of inciting racial hatred. I would end up in court. I expect I will even be accused of racial hatred for writing this letter as people see the word "Muslim" and react without looking at the context.

An example of this is that our Church magazine recently carried an article by someone who was struggling with Muslims and thought they were all the same and, by their own admission, had become prejudiced.

The article explained how a book they had read had helped them to come to love Muslims, as Jesus commands, even though we do not have to agree. Within one month, we were being accused of inciting racial hatred and we were threatened with legal action even though the article explained how the person's perception had changed.

We have become so one-sided in our country. Not so long ago, a Jewish source in Canada sent photographs of a march in London by Muslims with slogans such as "Kill those who insult Islam". It was allowed to proceed through the streets unchallenged.

Yet, we know that Christians are being silenced. The media constantly reports news of Christians who are told they cannot exhibit their faith. A nurse who was disciplined for praying with a patient; school teachers who are told they cannot wear crosses even though their Muslim colleagues can wear full headdress. Free speech is becoming less and less permissible for Christians.

I accept that those who marched are a minority and do not represent all Muslim people. I accept that some Muslims were equally disgusted with this and rightly so.

However, it still does not affect the basic premise that we have become one-sided in allowing free speech to these extremists while silencing others that want their opportunity of free speech.

From: John Watson, Hutton Hll, Leyburn.

HAVING read about the disgusting behaviour towards our troops by Muslim extremists, I am bound to ask when are we going to stop pandering to the whims and teachings of Islamic fundamentalism?

Nearly every day we read about people with different religion and cultures being offended by all things Christian, things which have been part of our culture for generations and which we take for granted.

We all know that most immigrants want nothing more than to settle here with British nationality, find a good job and mix in with the indigenous population.

The extremists, on the other hand, want a "jihad" and all that goes with it.

If the extremists don't like the way we live, they can return

to Pakistan.

From: Clare Thomas, St Michael's Lane, Headingley, Leeds.

I AM absolutely disgusted to hear about the Muslim anti-war protest in Luton. After all, the soldiers have been through; losing 12 comrades while on duty, and the hard times they have inevitably had while in Iraq, they deserved a heroes' welcome – and not the tirade of abuse they received.

While we live in a democratic society, and the protesters have the right to do what they did, surely this was the wrong way to go about it and it seems like a personal attack on the soldiers who were, after all, just doing their job?

Do they not realise that the protest will bring more hatred to our streets and do more harm than good? Many Muslims would totally disagree with this protest, but may now find themselves facing the backlash, which is totally unfair.

From: Phil Hanson, Beechmount Close, Baildon, Shipley.

I AM disgusted that our brave troops were the subject of abuse in Luton.

If these Islamists don't like what our troops did in invading Iraq, they should tell Gordon Brown and co, and not insult our brave and under- appreciated troops.

It is ironic that many Islamic nations, where many of these protesters have origins, would have taken these protesters to one side and either shot them or simply locked them up. Oh isn't that why these troops went to Iraq?

Of course, if the protesters are so upset about Iraq, they can always get a one-way ticket there. Our loss will be Iraq's gain.

New blow for stamp collectors

From: Norman J Hazell, Woolgreaves Drive, Sandal, Wakefield.

I SAW your emotive story "Stamps to beat fraudsters", which is all very well, although no mention of inefficiency which allows stamps to get through unfranked. If a letter arrives with an unused stamp, why not re-use it?

However, on a much more serious note, I see this as a further example of the Post Office's contempt for philatelists. They pour out set after set of coloured pictures for people to stick in their albums, but to a long-time collector like me, going back to George V, life is going to get even more difficult.

The Post Office has already shown the way it thinks about collectors by its increasing use of printed white labels, which means every time I send a letter or package to my grandchildren in Australia, I have to create a fuss by refusing these miserable bits of paper.

Troops who must fight on

From: Kevin Maguire, Hanover Street, Batley.

WHAT seems to have been put on the back burner? The economic crisis seems to have overtaken events in Iraq and Afghanistan. Is there any sign that the Allied Forces and the UN are going to bring our troops back home? The families of the troops must be distraught and wonder why loved ones are in danger of losing their lives.

To be quite frank, the overriding reason for going out to Iraq was to remove Saddam Hussein – and Afghanistan has been a thorn in the side for many years. The loss of life has not been worth it, in economic terms far too costly. Did Gordon Brown take this up with Barack Obama? Would that we were privy to the words that were spoken and the action which is going to be taken.

Good intentions

From: David H Rhodes, Keble Park North, Bishopthorpe, York.

VALERIE Bryson's article (Yorkshire Post, March 4) on political correctness was an interesting point of view. Maybe she could consider the following:

Definition 1. A nice thought wrapped up in molly coddling.

Definition 2. An opinion expressed by a few (normally do-gooders) should be imposed on a majority with little or no prior debate.

It also makes the assumption that it will be what the

majority desires or what is good for them.

Could it be that these arbiters of correctness are sometimes self-deluded as to their worthiness to pontificate?

Is the real intention to confer sainthood on themselves for their good works with no regard to necessity of action, its practicality, or its implementation into the grander scheme of things?

Regarding her point "stifles any reasoned debate", surely debate should come before the conclusion and subsequent implementation? Fait accompli is normally too late for discussion.

Recruitment body's changing stance of IT jobs

From: Tim Hunter, Farfield Avenue, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire.

I WAS pleased to hear that Ann Swain, chief executive of the recruitment agents' representative body (Apsco) is becoming concerned about

off-shoring (Yorkshire Post, March 9). Apsco is obviously finding that the profitability and jobs of its members are now at risk. Unfortunately, the recruitment profession hasn't always taken this view.

The article implied that Britain was experiencing a shortage of IT expertise in 2000. In fact, in 2000, the increased demand for IT staff caused by the inflated "Y2K" era had ended. There was no shortage of skills, and the job market was depressed.

However, in 2000, Ann Swain of Atsco (Apsco's forerunner), seemed quite enthusiastic about the hiring of foreign workers, even putting forward a proposal for where agencies could "sponsor" work permits.

Based on skills data that was years out of date, the UK Government proceeded to issue 20,000 fast track visas between 2000 and 2002, which resulted in a lot of work disappearing offshore. By 2002, the IT contractor industry was on its knees (I know, I was out of work myself for a while). In 2002, after successful lobbying by the Professional Contractors' Group (PCG), all IT skills were removed from the Work Permits Skills Shortage list. However, the loophole of the Intra Company Transfer (ICT) has enabled the haemorrhage of IT jobs to continue. Until members of the recruitment industry realised it was going to affect them, they were quite supportive of easing the rules for hiring of foreign IT workers, and have been quite happy to exaggerate "skills shortages". Maybe the best solution is for Government to stop listening to Apsco.

It is a sad reflection of British values that we have a recruitment body purporting to speak on behalf of an industry. We can solve the perceived cost problem with British IT workers through "disintermediation" of the recruitment sector. We

could remove the recruitment agent "middle–men" (and

the associated costs) and encourage companies to hire

IT contractors direct.

True position

From: Don Burslam, Elm Road, Dewsbury Moor, Dewsbury.

THE latest attempt to spin the Government out of responsibility for the economic crisis has come surprisingly from the Governor of the Bank

of England.

It's really only the same malarkey – it's a global crisis. This really won't wash. Gordon Brown and others were always boasting about London being the financial hub and powerhouse for international transactions. Now it seems they were helpless victims of outside forces. Either we are the masters of the universe or we are just paper tigers; we can't be both.

Call to arms

From: HH Greaves, Lea Close, Leven, Near Beverley.

BRIAN Sheridan tells us that he received a call from an Indian call centre and the respondent used an impeccable English accent (Yorkshire Post, March 11). The reason Mr Sheridan mentioned the incident was because at least one British insurance company, he tells us, is pandering to British prejudice by citing British call centres as a selling point. Good for them, I say. My own prejudice is that British companies ought to use "home-grown" staff.