‘Islamo-fascists threaten British freedom of speech’

Thus the headline to the latest BNP news release. The fascists’ indignation is directed against the Muslim Action Committee’s statement, as reported in Eastern Eye, that they want legal action to be taken against the BNP over its latest anti-Muslim leaflet. The Eastern Eye report claims: “Under the government’s new race and religion law, the BNP can be prosecuted if its leaflets stir up hatred and pose a direct threat to Muslim people.”

Unfortunately, this is not true. The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was wrecked by the “Lester amendment”, formulated by Lib Dem peer Lord Lester, which rejected the government’s proposal to illegalise material that has the effect of stirring up hatred against Muslims. For a successful prosecution, it would be necessary to prove that the BNP intended to incite hatred through their leaflet, and proof of subjective intent is notoriously difficult to establish. Nor does the law, as neutered by Lester and his friends, criminalise material that poses an objective threat to Muslims. Rather, it would be necessary for the prosecution to demonstrate that the words contained in the BNP pamphlet are themselves “threatening”. And the fascists have taken care to ensure that they are not.