A Protestant evangelical pressure group has warned that it will try to use the government’s racial and religious hatred law to prosecute bookshops selling the Qur’an for inciting religious hatred.
Christian Voice, a fringe fundamentalist group which first came to public prominence this year when it campaigned against the BBC’s broadcasting of Jerry Springer The Opera, was among the evangelical organisations taking part in a 1,000-strong demonstration against the bill outside parliament yesterday as the House of Lords held a second reading debate on the measure.
Its director, Stephen Green, said the organisation would consider taking out prosecutions against shops selling the Islamic holy book. He told the Guardian: “If the Qur’an is not hate speech, I don’t know what is. We will report staff who sell it. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that unbelievers must be killed.”
It seems to have escaped Green’s attention that under the provisions of the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill it would be necessary for the Attorney General to initiate a prosecution. And what are the prospects of the Attorney General acceding to demands from a nutty Christian sect that Muslim bookshops should be prosecuted for selling the Qur’an? Precisely nil.
What is more worthy of comment is the fact that yesterday’s protest against the bill involved a block between right-wing evangelical Christians and militant secularists. According to reports in the Morning Star and the Metro, the former group brandished placards reading “Freedom to Preach” and “Don’t Let Terrorism Win”, and joined together in singing “In the Name of Jesus We Have the Victory”, while Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society hailed the demonstration (which had the official backing of the NSS) as “a measure of the breadth of the opposition to this bill”.
You might wonder what such disparate groups have in common. An interest in fomenting hatred against Muslims free from state interference, perhaps?