Submission from Bobbers Mill Community
We warmly welcome the initiative of the House
of Lords on Religious Offences and we are delighted to have the
opportunity to make submissions.
We strongly support the passing of law that
prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion in all areas not
just in employment and training. We see no justification for the
distinction that is currently drawn between racial or religious
discrimination; both are socially divisive and morally reprehensible.
We believe that this change is long overdue and that the need
for protection of the followers of Islam from discrimination and
prejudice has become acute since the tragic events of 11 September.
The law as it stands, is discriminatory. Incitement
to racial hatred is an offence but incitement to religious hatred
is not. In Northern Ireland incitement to religious hatred has
been an offence since 1987 but not on the mainland. Under the
existing legislation, the law on incitement to racial hatred protects
certain faith communities (the Jews and the Sikhs) since the Courts
have ruled that followers of these faiths are also regarded as
racial groups. This anomalous situation places the Muslims and
other faith communities in a grossly unequal and unfair position.
Indeed in the current climate of virulent Islamophobia following
the 11 September tragedy, protection of law-abiding followers
of Islam in Britain from physical violence and harassment is much
We should also like you to consider the position
of the law on Blasphemy. As Muslims we must and we do support
the current law on Blasphemy because defamation of Prophet Isa
(Jesus) is repugnant to our faith. However the law as it stands
does not protect other faiths and we believe that the time has
come for there to be a comprehensive law for the protection of
all faiths from defamation and vilification. We are not campaigning
for censorship of public debate on faith matters. Far from it.
We would wish to encourage such debates. We only ask that such
debates are carried out in a civilised and sensitive manner.