Saturday, November 11, 2006

Nick Griffin, the BNP and Islam

The court has cleared Nick Griffin of 'hate crimes'. The leader of the British National Party had said that Islam is a "wicked, vicious faith". This was a test of new religious hate laws criminalising speech that is likely to stir up racial or religious hatred. I'm pleased he was cleared as I believe we need the right to criticise religions. My observation is that criticising Islam is likely to stir up hatred. That in itself is a criticism of Islam.

If we lose the right to criticise religions, how long before we are not allowed to criticise political parties? What is the difference? They are both made up of groups of people with common beliefs that they take personally. Some people care passionately about their politics and are easily offended. How long before they require equal protection from offence?

Widespread offence only happens when the criticism might be true. If I say that the Ladies' Crochet Circle is wicked and vicious, no one would take it seriously. When Griffin says Islam is wicked and vicious, the authorities worry it may be more believable.

Government minister Lord Falconer, has said there should be "consequences" from saying Islam is "wicked and evil". Why? It is the expression of an opinion. It infringes no one else's rights. Neither does it incite others to illegal acts. If the opinion is misinformed, let us put the counter argument.

So is the statement correct? Is Islam a wicked and vicious faith? This is too general a statement to be either true or false. Islam is not one thing, it means something different to each adherent, and different things again to the rest of us. To describe Islam as 'wicked and vicious' is as ridiculous as asserting that Islam is a 'religion of peace'. It certainly isn't a religion of peace to all Muslims.

I think slightly more specific statements such as "Islam is conspicuously over-represented among the wicked and vicious", or "Loads of Muslims want to kill each other and the infidel" are more verifiable.


Bel said...

Hi, I only just stumbled upon your fine blog.

I agree with your article, however one point: I thought that Griffin and his sidekick were tried under the race hatred laws, and not the religious hatred laws?

Either way, the points you make are valid. Why should it be an offence to say something rude about another's religion?

Bel said...

PS.I like your blog, by the way. I have linked to you in my favourites. Keep up the good work.