Melanie Phillips joins the chorus of condemnation provoked by Gordon Brown’s suggestion that the racial hatred laws need tightening up to prevent the fascist BNP inciting hatred against Muslim communities:
“… racial hatred is entirely different from being offensive about a religion. Unlike racial hatred, which targets people, religious hatred is directed at an idea. And in a free society, there should be no place for criminalising the clash of ideas, however much upset this may cause…. Mr Brown is doubtless keen to burnish his credentials as a Prime Minister-in-waiting by displaying his toughness against all extremism…. But he doesn’t seem to realise that outlawing hatred of religion would undermine this fight, by shutting down crucial debate about Islam and its role in global terror…. Mr Brown’s view plays directly into the hands of those Muslims who try to stifle debate about Islamic terrorism on the grounds of ‘Islamophobia’….
“What makes people vulnerable to the BNP is the enormous gulf between ministerial rhetoric and action. It is staggering, for example, that in deprived Newham, the Government is allowing the largest mosque in Europe to be built on the site of the Olympic village – a piece of Islamist triumphalism to be funded by the Tablighi Jamaat, a group described by intelligence sources as an ‘ante-chamber’ to al Qaeda…. The BNP is exploiting a deep weakness in our culture. Only if British society and its values are defended with the utmost vigour and their attackers given no quarter will the poisonous boil of the BNP finally be lanced, and bigotry of every kind shown the door.”
If we need help in “showing bigotry the door” Melanie Phillips will of course be the first person we turn to.