Neil Addison, barrister and creator of Religion Law UK, has had an interesting letter published in The Muslim News on the subject of the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill. We have taken the liberty of publishing it here in full:
Sir, In your editorial comment on the proposed Incitement to Religious Hatred Law you said “Sir, John Stevens, said in October 2001, that he sent hate mails received by Muslims after September 11, to the Crown Prosecution Services (CPS) to see if prosecutions can be brought against them. When challenged by The Muslim News that as the CPS will not be able to prosecute the cases as incitement to religious hatred was legal, he acknowledged that there was a need for the outlawing of incitement to religious hatred.”
Can I just point out that the sending of “Hate mail” is already a crime contrary to s1 Malicious Communications Act 1988. If more than one piece of “hate mail” is sent then it is a crime contrary to s2 Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and if religiously aggravated ie inspired by religious hatred there is a maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment.
You also accuse Liberal and Conservative MPs and the media of whipping up “ an atmosphere of revulsion by effectively putting Satanists, witches and even child molesters on a par with the protection of Muslims”.
Can I just point out that even the Government itself has accepted that Witchcraft and Satanism will be regarded as a “religion or belief” for the purpose of this legislation
Part of the problem with this entire debate on the Religious Hatred law is that nobody who supports the Bill has come up yet with an example of behaviour which should be prosecuted but which is not already a criminal offence. If anyone can give me such an example I would be glad to hear it.
Neil Addison (Barrister)
Well? We’re waiting.