Charles Moore continues misrepresentation
20th December 2004
For the second week running, Charles Moore (Daily Telegraph, Dec 18th) continues to misrepresent why I � together with most British Muslims and leading faith organisations from other communities - support the government�s proposals to outlaw incitement to religious hatred.
He says that I "see attacks on the Prophet as attacks on all Muslims � therefore�they should be banned." While it is true that Muslims regard vilification of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as reprehensible and the provocative charge of �paedophilia� especially so, this is an entirely separate debate.
I made it explicit to Mr Moore in our encounter together last Tuesday on Channel Four News that the MCB does not believe that this type of vilification would contravene the proposed incitement laws � which are about protecting believers against incitement to hatred, not belief systems.
The proposed incitement provision is needed to combat the hatred that threatens the cohesion of our communities. The proposed law is a logical extension to an existing law on incitement to racial hatred that protects believers from the Jewish and Sikh communities - because they are regarded as mono-ethnic communities. Is it not only proper, fair and just that the laws should protect believers of all faith communities and not just some? In evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences, many organisations, including the Association of Chief Police Officers, gave examples of problems where they faced difficulties responding under the existing Incitement to Racial Hatred legislation alone and where the extension of this incitement provision to religious hatred would help them combat extremism.
The critical question Mr Moore avoided in both of his comment pieces on this issue was this: should the likes of the far right and the British National Party continue to be allowed to exploit the existing loophole in our current legislation to incite hatred against British Muslims?
The Muslim Council of Britain
London E15 1NT