More confusion on the religious hatred bill

Mike Marqusee“No one should underestimate the hatred, violence and injustice poured on Muslims in the UK. They are subject to verbal and physical assaults. Their mosques are defaced. They are harassed by police. Members of their community are arbitrarily searched, arrested and detained. Their religion is distorted and vilified, not only in the right-wing anti-immigrant press, but also in more liberal organs. Routinely, the entire Muslim population is placed on trial and considered guilty until it proves itself innocent; Muslims are asked again and again to demonstrate their willingness to ‘integrate’ and their commitment to ‘British values’.

“It’s not surprising therefore that many within the Muslim community have welcomed the government’s religious hatred bill. Sadly, however, it will do nothing to relieve their distress. It will not curb the most powerful fomenters of Islamophobia – the state and the mainstream media. It will not increase anyone’s security from assault by bigots. There is already sufficient legislation on the books to enable police to act against anyone threatening or harassing people because they are Muslims or attacking Muslims as a group. What’s missing in most cases is the will to take action under the law.”

Mike Marqusee offers some insights into the position of Muslims in Britain but gets it wrong on the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

Counterpunch, 19 December 2005