15 Jul 2004
Tonight’s BBC1 documentary, Secret Agent, in which undercover reporters expose the extremely violent behaviour and menacingly anti-Muslim prejudice of the British National Party underlines, once again, the urgent need for the government to introduce legislation not only outlawing incitement to religious hatred but ensuring that it is unlawful to discriminate against anyone on religious grounds.
“The BNP have long been exploiting a loophole in our current legislation which outlaws incitement to racial hatred but does not forbid incitement to religious hatred. This lacuna in law has allowed the BNP to modify the focus of its poisonous invective explicitly against the British Muslim community. This documentary provides additional evidence of the immense harm this is doing to community relations in our country and confirms once and for all that there is a direct link between the vile and hateful language of the BNP and serious acts of criminal violence,” said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
The MCB believes there is a clear distinction between legitimate criticism of a faith and inciting people to hate and carry out acts of violence against members of a particular faith community.
The BBC documentary shows the BNP Chairman, Nick Griffin, at a party meeting describing Islam as a “wicked vicious faith” which preaches that “any woman that they can take by force or guile is theirs”. It also shows a BNP local council candidate, Stewart Williams, saying “all I want to do is shoot Pakis”, and another, Dave Midgley, claiming that for three weeks he placed dog faeces through the letter box of a local Indian restaurant. In addition a BNP member confesses to a racial attack in the 2001 Bradford riot in which he kicked the victim until he was “floppy”, while Mark Collett, another candidate, calls asylum-seekers “cockroaches”.
“Since 9/11, it seems that we as a society have regrettably become more accepting of abuse and hatred directed towards Muslims. This must be stopped as the consequences for community relations in this country are already very damaging. We look forward to the Crown Prosecution Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions confirming that they will be having a serious look at the programme to see whether any existing criminal offences have been committed, ” added Mr Sacranie.
The MCB commends the BBC for exposing the dangers that lie in the community.[Ends]
Note for Editors:
The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK’s representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.
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