LET’S be clear about this. Dean Perks, UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, doesn’t go a bundle on the WHOLE sharia law package. He just likes the bit about thieves having their hands chopped off.
He told supporters at a UKIP rally:
In my opinion, sharia law works as a prevention – and prevention is better than cure. If you think you are going to get your hand chopped off for pinching something, you won’t pinch it.
Perks, a self-employed builder from Dudley, is fighting Halesowen and Rowley Regis, where Tory MP James Morris has a slender majority of just over 2,000 votes.
His words were greeted with alarm and dismay – not least by Muslims in the area.
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr said:
Sharia law can only be applied in Muslim states. There is no way sharia law could be introduced in the UK and Muslims who live in countries where there isn’t a predominance of Muslims, like here, follow the law of the land.
Mr Perks seems to be very confused; you can’t pick and chose with sharia law. You either believe in all of it, or none of it – and you have to be a Muslim. I suggest he consults the scriptures – the Koran – and converts to Islam.
I think his comments are intended to attract votes from the Muslim community in Halesowen and Rowley Regis but are inappropriate and ill-thought-out.
Ragih Muflihi, chief executive of the 2,000-strong Sandwell Yemeni Association, said:
These type of comments are unhelpful. They will just fuel the flames. Islam teaches us quite clearly that Muslims who are living in a non-Muslim country, like the UK, must obey the laws of that country, not sharia law.
Sharia law is often misunderstood and a lot of modern-day Muslims in the UK and elsewhere don’t even know what it is.
James Morris, Conservative MP for Halesowen and Rowley Regis, added:
It is essential that everybody who lives in Britain – regardless of background, culture, religion or race – must be expected to abide by British laws. We have seen horrible consequences when some groups think that they don’t have to live by the same rules as everybody else.
Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs but we would not accept people being allowed to opt out of our legal system or for communities to adopt their own forms of justice.
John Spellar, Labour MP for Warley in the Black Country, said:
Once again, this shows the bizarre sort of candidate UKIP is attracting. People from all communities will be astonished and appalled that Mr Perks wants to bring such barbarity into Britain.
The real question is: ‘How did he ever get to be a candidate in the first place?’ I challenge (UKIP leader) Nigel Farage to throw him out immediately.”
Perks told a UKIP rally in Coventry:
I recently had a conversation with someone who asked what I thought of sharia law. I said: ’Well, in all honesty, I do agree with part – but by no means all – of sharia law. That’s my view – my opinion. I ain’t going to defend myself: I do agree with it.
Mr Perks is no stranger to controversy. Six months ago, he admitted referring to someone on Twitter as ‘a retard’. He also praised Enoch Powell as ‘a visionary’, adding:
He was well-liked among the Asian community.
Perks further told the meeting that he was not a racist, saying he has a godson who is a Muslim, and has many Asian and mixed-race friends.
Hat tip: Stephen Mynett