Letter from the Al-Khoei Foundation
The proposed Religious Offences Bill that is
being introduced by Lord Avebury seeks to abolish several existing
religious offences, most notably the offence of blasphemy, and
create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred. Al-Khoei
Foundation expresses its support for the second part of the Bill.
As articulated by colleagues and other organisations
supporting the Avebury Bill, Muslims generally do not object to
the current blasphemy laws and the protection they provide to
the Anglican Church per se. However, we do feel that there
is a case for such protection to be extended to other faith communities
in the interests of fairness.
Muslims in the UK do not enjoy the same protection
against hate crimes in Britain as rightly enjoyed by other minority
communities and some faith communities, notably Jews and Sikhs.
The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill 2001, following the
backlash against Muslims after 11 September 2001, sought to address
this anomaly, but was only partially successful. Consequently,
Muslimsand indeed, most faith communities, including all
Christian denominationsare still not protected against
the offence of incitement to religious hatred.
Lord Avebury's Bill is an important step forward
for minority protection legislation in this country and will,
we believe, have a positive impact on race relations and civil
rights in this country and beyond. As you will be aware, there
is currently a European Union draft Framework Decision on Combating
Racism and Xenophobia. Support for the Avebury Bill would ensure
the Government's support for this Framework Decision and thus
protection from incitement to religious hatred throughout the
EU. It will also check the increasing power and influence of the
far right who are currently mobilising support on a specifically
We hope very much that the views of various
sections of the diverse Muslim community and others in the UK
will be given appropriate consideration in the formation of your
final report and recommendations.
27 August 2002