Monday, June 20, 2005

Britain - Artists against religious hatred bill

I hope they can get a lot more support than this.

A coalition of some of Britain's most prominent actors, artists and writers will today make a last-minute attempt to persuade the government to amend its plans for a new law banning "incitement to religious hatred".

MPs are due to debate the bill tomorrow, but campaigners fear the legislation will gag free speech while failing to help community relations, or even hindering them.

Currently Jews and Sikhs are protected by existing legislation making incitement to racial hatred a crime, but the law does not cover other, non-racial, faith groups, such as Muslims.

If this bill passes, one could be prosecuted for calling bin Laden a terrorist. This is nothing more than Muslim appeasement.

Even civil liberties groups don't want the bill.

Shami Chakrabati, the director of civil liberties group Liberty, said: "There may be good intentions behind this bill but the road to censorship is paved that way.

Today's delegation includes Ms Chakrabati, Mr Harris, the Guardian journalist Polly Toynbee, the Tory shadow attorney general, Dominic Grieve, and the Labour backbencher Bob Marshall-Andrews.

It's going to take more than this bunch I'm afraid.

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