Press Release: Incitement to Religious Hatred debate submerged in Islamophobia

Islamic Human Rights Commission

31 January 2006

Press Release: Incitement to Religious Hatred debate submerged in Islamophobia

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is very concerned at the level of xenophobia surrounding the incitement to religious hatred debate.

IHRC notes that opposition to these laws is based around ideas of free speech, yet there are already existing curtailments on free speech with regards to Judaism and Sikhism as a result of their recognition under race relations laws. Similar concerns have never been raised in connection with existing protection. Indeed, it has never even been argued that this protection is problematic.

That people are demonstrating to retain their right to mock and incite hatred against Muslims but are quite content to lose that right with regards to other faith communities highlights the level of prejudice against Muslims in Britain.

Nevertheless, IHRC is opposed to the legislation on the grounds that in the current climate of Islamophobia, it will be used to primarily prosecute Muslims rather than protect them, and will also unleash a new wave of Islamophobia coated in the language of the protection of freedom of speech. This fear is based on the similar experience of black and ethnic minority communities after the introduction of laws on incitement to racial hatred.

IHRC Chair Massoud Shadjareh said today:

“If the government really wishes to protect the Muslim community in Britain, it should extend and complete racial discrimination laws which already protect some religious communities, like the Jewish and Sikh communities. Anything less is merely cosmetic and constitutes a refusal to recognize Muslims as equal citizens worthy of equal protection.”

For more information please contact (+44) 20 8904 4222, or (44) 7958 522196 or[ ENDS ]

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183