17 May 2005
The Muslim Council of Britain welcomes the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill and the Equality Bill included in today’s Queen’s Speech.
“The Equality Bill will extend the current protection against racial discrimination to also cover religious discrimination. This is a long overdue measure. In addition, we are pleased to see the government taking steps to fulfil its manifesto commitment to prohibit Incitement to Religious Hatred. This particular piece of legislation has been the subject of a great deal of wilful misinterpretation by many assorted critics. We hope that it is now clear that criticism or ridicule of faith will not be made an offence under this law and that safeguards have been built in to ensure this. The proposed legislation is instead intended to target those who were exploiting the existing loophole in our laws to deliberately stir up hatred against members of faith communities. This Bill will – when enacted – finally end the current hierarchy of rights whereby members of the Jewish and Sikh faiths alone are protected against incitement because they are covered by the existing racial incitement laws. We urge our media to ensure a fair debate through equality of access and representation for all points of view on this important legislation,” said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.[Ends] [ENDS]