Religious Hatred Law Perpetuates Inequality after Commons Vote

01 Feb 2006

Our country today finally has a law that is supposed to prohibit incitement to religious hatred but it is a law that will not extend the same protection accorded to the Jewish and Sikh communities to other communities, including the Muslim and Hindu. While the recognition to legislate against incitement to religious hatred is an important step forward, the amendments made by the House of Lords and adopted by the House of Commons last night, will still continue to perpetuate the inequality that has persisted under the application of existing legislation.

“The Bill had been intended to close a loophole in the law which meant that while some faith groups, such as Jews and Sikhs were rightfully protected against incitement under our existing racial hatred laws, others were not. Far right groups have availed themselves of this loophole and have been increasingly and explicitly targeting British Muslims in recent years.

Unfortunately, the misinformation and mischief making from popular comedians and some influential sections of the media, supported by certain political groups, has led Parliament to continue to sanction a wholly unjustifiable hierarchy of rights among British citizens. Freedom of expression and speech was never threatened under the incitement to racial hatred laws nor was it to be threatened under the proposed law. This situation is now not only unjust but makes the work of all those engaged in promoting a cohesive and harmonious society in Britain all the more difficult.

Nevertheless, the MCB will continue to strive for justice and to work for the common good of all sections of society,” said Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.