Monday, July 16, 2007

Shambo's Astonishing Reprieve

Mr Justice Hickinbottom’s decision to grant a reprieve for Shambo, the sacred bullock currently in residence in his own purpose built shrine at the Skanda Vale temple in Wales is astonishing. Does it mean religious communities are henceforth to be granted rights over and above the secular law?

I certainly hope not. What chaos would result? It seems to me this Judgement only says that when Shambo tested positive in a routine tuberculosis test and the Welsh Assembly issued a standard notice to slaughter in accordance with standard agricultural practice, they failed as the outset to take sufficient account of the fact that Shambo is not a conventional farm animal. This meant they did not take account of whether public health concerns outweighed religious rights. The fact the Assembly claimed to have considered this subsequently probably cuts no mustard in legal circles. I sense this is more a matter of following correct legal procedure than anything else.

However, the question of whether and when the right to practise a religion as enshrined in European Human Rights law may or may not excuse one from following the law of the relevant land is a vital and important question, one that has such potentially dramatic consequences for us all and needs to be tested in the Courts as soon as possible.

So, we will all be watching to see what happens in the Appeal Court with interest. Whether it ends there is anyone’s guess – I suspect this one may well go all the way to the European Court itself.

Meanwhile, poor old Shambo stays on sacred death row, isolated from his fellow creatures and, it seems to me, not having much of a divine life at all, despite his luxurious surroundings.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

UK Terror Threat

There is a great deal I would like to say on the latest terrorist threat to the UK but, frankly, this 'Comment is Free' piece in The Guardian does it better. I suggest you take a look: - Click Here

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