The Muslim Council of Britain has written to party leaders and all members of parliament laying out its case for supporting the proposed legislation to prohibit incitement to religious hatred.
In a letter sent to all MPs, the Secretary-General of the MCB asked everyone to consider: `The question that is not being answered is why certain faith communities should be allowed to suffer unjustly and unfairly because they happen to be of a different faith. Surely, it is important for members of parliament to send a powerful message clearly stating that people of all faiths and none should be treated equally under the law? The proposal is not to create a new type of law but to extend existing laws in order to close the current loophole in legislation, thus ending the hierarchy of rights that we have at present.'
In the letter to Charles Kennedy MP, the Secretary-General called for the party to give importance to domestic issues: `Your position on the Iraq war deservedly won support from many British Muslims, but this should not lead your party to underestimate the importance the Muslim community places on domestic issues, particularly on its own long-term safety. An inclusive society must ensure equality of treatment under the law for all.'
While Rt. Hon. Michael Howard MP was praised for his stance against the BNP, he was asked to follow through with practical steps: `The Muslim community praised your bold stance and your commitment to a more inclusive approach. However, we had hoped that this would be followed through with practical steps to tackling hatred that is generated by such groups against communities like ours.'
Tonight there will be anxious anticipation for the result of the debate in the House of Commons. The MCB urged all MPs to support the proposed legislation.
`The Muslim community will be greatly disappointed if MPs oppose what most British Muslims see as a vital piece of equality legislation. Indeed, we see it as an important step towards ensuring the long-term safety of our community.' Said Iqbal Sacranie, the Secretary-General of the MCB.
Notes to Editors:
1. The proposal is to extend the existing criminal offence of incitement to racial hatred, contained in the Public Order Act 1986, to also include religious hatred.
2. This is part of the Government's Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which is due to be put before the Commons on Monday 7th February 2005.
3. The proposal is supported by The Commission for Racial Equality, The Law Society, Justice, law enforcement agencies across the board and many others.
4. The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK's representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.
For further information please contact: The Muslim Council of Britain, Boardman House, 64 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 1NT,
Tel: 07708 065 150 or 0208 432 0585/6, Fax: 0208 432 0587, Email:
, Website: http://www.mcb.org.uk