Thursday, January 27, 2005

Insulting Islam in Britain

Even under new legislation people will be able to insult Islam in Britain:

MUSLIMS were warned by the Director of Public Prosecutions yesterday that new laws designed to combat religious hatred would not stop people from being rude about Islam.

Ken Macdonald told MPs that he wanted to play down Muslim expectations to avoid a backlash against police and politicians because very few cases were likely to reach the courts.

People will remain “perfectly free to be rude or offensive” about Islam or any other other religion because in most cases the right of free speech will still prevail, Mr Macdonald said.

He added: “It is very important people understand what the law will achieve. It will stop the grossest form of conduct but it will not stop people being rude about Islam.”

Mr Macdonald was speaking at the Home Affairs Select Committee, where he also repeated his caution to ministers to keep the right to jury trial even for terrorist suspects. He told MPs of his concern that religious incitement laws, part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, were expected by some to stop all forms of criticism or abuse of Islam.

The proposals have also been criticised for threatening to stifle free speech. Mr Macdonald said that they would not have been possible in the United States because of the First Amendment. But in the light of existing laws on incitement to racial hatred, British courts would “set the bar very high” before convicting, he added.


At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But isn't that always the case? Laws only prevent physical attacks, not verbal ones. Sometimes I think there should be a limit to free speech, but what would that limit be? Something to think about. Interesting post.


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