Over-the-top ‘religious hate’ laws have fuelled a worrying trend of prosecutions for even mildly critical remarks, a think tank has warned.
Draconian hate laws have dragged disputes that would normally be settled in a healthy argument between people into the courts, it suggests.
The majority of those prosecuted are white men, it claims.
A new report from the think tank Civitas ‘A New Inquisition: religious persecution in Britain today’, warns that people are being charged with serious offences for discussing religion.
It cites examples of over the top prosecutions including:
- Christian hoteliers Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were charged with religiously aggravated hate crimes after describing the prophet Mohammed as a ‘warlord’ to guest Ericka Tazi. The couple pleaded their innocence and the charges were thrown out.
- Atheist Harry Taylor put leaflets mocking Christianity and Islam in a prayer room at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. He was charged with causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress under the Public Order Act.
- Tauriq Khalid was taken to court for a racially motivated ‘hate’ offence after he gave a two fingered gesture to BNP leader Nick Griffin. Mr Khalid was cleared. Although the blasphemy law â€“ which only applied to Christians – was repealed in 2008, it has been overtaken with a much more virulent ‘anti hatred’ legislation.
People are being charged through the back door for causing ‘religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress’ under the Public Order Act.
This could destroy open and critical decision of religion, warns academic and author, Jon Gower Davies, formerly head of religious studies at Newcastle University.
He said: ‘The British people might be forgiven for thinking that their basic religious-cultural inheritance, the culture under which we have grown up, is not just out of control but under some insidious attack.’
Yes indeed. Nullabor Â never tried to hide the fact that they were trying to replace native Brits with a Mohammedan proletariat……
While the number of racial and religious hate crimes fell from 13,201 in 2006-7 to 11,845 in 2008-9, the volume of hate legislation has rapidly expanded.
Mr Davies said: ‘The law has been invited to insert its punitive, plodding and primitive self into areas of life from which we have long been accustomed to assume not simply its absence, but the positive existence of a freely-negotiated civic culture. In this culture and civil society we accept an obligation to sort things out for ourselvesâ€”as reasonable men and reasonable women.’
Hate laws, he warned, would actually fuel more abuse and hate as assorted ‘miscreants’ would be paraded before the courts.
Mr Davies said that there seemed to be a bias in applying the law.
He said: ‘The new laws do not simply remove blasphemy but extend it: and (again, in effect) extend it to provide a special de facto protection to Islam.’
The majority of defendants in race or religious hate crimes were white British males, he said. When a Muslim man defaced a war memorial in Burton upon Trent after spraying the words ‘Islam will dominate the worldâ€”Osama is on his way’ and ‘Kill Gordon Brown’ across the plinth, he was prosecuted for criminal damage but not for religious or race offences.
The Crown Prosecution Service had argued that defacing the memorial was not an attack on any particular racial or religious group.