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07 Jul 2004
Law To Outlaw Incitement to Religious Hatred Welcomed
The Muslim Council of Britain welcomes today's announcement from the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, about plans to outlaw incitement to religious hatred in the UK.
"This is a long overdue measure but nevertheless is a welcome first step. It will hopefully close a loophole in the law that has meant that whereas incitement to racial hatred has been prohibited, incitement to religious hatred has not. This anomaly has not gone unnoticed by Far Right groups in the UK who have been abusing this loophole by publicly adapting their old racist rhetoric of yesteryear into a virulently anti-Muslim invective designed to create divisions in our society," said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
At the same time, the MCB continues to urge the government to introduce comprehensive legislation outlawing religious discrimination in the civil arena either by extending the Race Relations Act to include religion or under a new Single Equalities Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race and religion. The government's own sponsored Derby Report on Religious Discrimination in England and Wales in March 2001 confirmed that British Muslims suffered from "a consistently higher level of unfair treatment than by most other religious groups" and highlighted education, employment, the media, immigration, policing and prisons as the areas where religious discrimination was most prevalent. This situation has been further aggravated since the tragic events of 9/11.
Mr Sacranie further added:
"One of the most important freedoms for all of us must be the freedom from hate. There currently exists a hierarchy of rights. This is the first step towards a level playing field. The sooner the Government introduces comprehensive legislation prohibiting Religious Discrimination as it has done with Racial Discrimination the sooner a fairer deal for all UK citizens can be reached. However we await sight of the actual draft legislation to be able to offer more detailed comments."
Note for Editors:
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 tel: 07708 065 150
For further information please contact the MCB:
The Muslim Council of Britain,
PO Box 57330,
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079