Christian Group Concerned About Proposed Anti-Religious Hate Law

September 15, 2004


On September 15, 2004 reported, "An international charity working with Christians in Islamic societies has launched a campaign to oppose a plan by the British government to outlaw incitement on religious grounds. Muslim groups, who have been pressing for such a move, welcomed the proposal by Home Secretary David Blunkett to 'ban incitement to religious hatred.' Blunkett said over the summer that he planned to introduce a measure creating a criminal offense of inciting hatred against groups or individuals on the grounds of beliefs. Offenders would face penalties of up to seven years in jail. Blunkett did not give details of the proposed bill, which he said would be brought before parliament 'as soon as possible.' Previous attempts to pass such a law ran into opposition -- even comedians argued that they could be prosecuted for satirizing religion -- and failed to win approval in the upper House of Lords. Critics of the move say incitement against minorities is already covered in rate hate laws, and see the proposal as a sop to Muslims in particular. They worry that it will stifle debate and criticism of other religions. Barnabas Fund, a UK-based charity working with Christians in Islamic societies, has now launched a campaign to raise concern about the measure... The charity said the law could be used against modernist Muslims who called for reforms to Islam. It could also hinder efforts to work for greater rights and equality for Muslim women. The law could furthermore be used to silence those who campaign against injustices endured by non-Muslims living under Islam."