According to an article in the online edition of the Telegraph:
The men, all but one of them members of the far-right English Defence League, set fire to what appears to be the Muslim holy books on the anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities in the United States.
They say they carried out the “private joke” as a riposte to historical images of Muslim extremists burning American flags and effigies of western leaders.
However, all six insist that they have no idea who actually posted the video onto the Internet, and say they now “bitterly regret” the stunt. All are now on bail pending further police inquiries.
The clip, recorded in the back yard of a public house [pub] in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, has been broadly condemned by other YouTube users, some of whom have expressed concern that British soldiers in Afghanistan could be targeted as a direct result.
They were marshalled by a man wearing a jacket bearing the logo: “English Defence League, Gateshead Division.”
As in the case of Rev. Terry Jones (the Florida minister who also proposed burning the Koran on the anniversary of the terrorist attack by Islamic extremists), the ironic invocation of national security simply highlights the homicidal tendencies of the Jihadists. The histrionics displayed by the governments of the U.S. and U.K. when citizens propose to burn a few copies of the Koran demonstrate not a concern for protecting the rights of minorities, but rather a fundamental agreement with the political assessment of those who propose to burn the books: that is, the view that adherents of Islam are inclined to acts of extreme violence when provoked, and the slightest provocation may unleash a wave of Jihadism which even highly trained armed forces thousands of miles from the alleged offense will be unable to contain.
Officials have been desperate to frame opposition to Islam as racist, a charge which seems all the more peculiar given the fact that the same government officials will no doubt insist that Jihadists cannot be racially profiled. Of course, Islam is no more a "race" than any other religion, and one may object to the tenets of Islam just as one may disagree with those of any other religion, without such disagreement being “racist.”
According to the Telegraph,
On the video members of the gang are heard shouting: “This is for the boys in Afghanistan. September 11, international Burn a Koran Day, for all the people of 9/11. This is how we do it in Gateshead, right.”
They are then shown burning a second book.
Police visited The Bugle [pub] last Wednesday after the video was posted online and two men were arrested on suspicion of stirring racial hatred. They have since been released on bail.
Four more men were arrested and bailed on Wednesday pending further inquiries, Northumbria Police said.
“The arrests followed the burning of what are believed to have been two Korans in Gateshead on September 11,” a spokesman said.
He added that the men were not arrested for watching or distributing the video, but on suspicion of burning the Koran.
One must wonder whether the contemplation of charges of stirring racial hatred for the Koran-burners will be followed by similar charges sweeping the United Kingdom after the annual observance of Guy Fawkes Day on November 5. After all, if the age of political correctness and tolerance now declares religion to be a matter of race, and expressions of religious disagreement are now to be interpreted (and prosecuted) as racism, one may legitimately wonder how the government will respond to similar expressions of religious disagreement. If the "Gateshead Six" are to be tried as racists for burning two copies of the Koran, what ought to await Richard Dawkins and his ilk is something similar to the Nuremberg Trials.
Photo: A supporter of the English Defence league, a group that campaigns against Islamic extremism, holds an American flag near the Saudi embassy in London onSept. 11, 2010 in London: AP Images