UK: The Push to End Free Speech

Sep 17, 2019 by

by Judith Bergman, Gatestone Institute:

In April 2018, Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims began work on establishing a “working definition of Islamophobia that can be widely accepted by Muslims, political parties and the government”.

In December 2018, the group concluded its work with a “Report on the inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia / anti-Muslim hatred.” The report defines “Islamophobia” as a form of racism, conflating religion with ethnic origin or nationality: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”[1]

The report, furthermore, claims that a definition of Islamophobia is “instrumental” to “the political will and institutional determination to tackle it.”

Most political parties, including Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives, have adopted the broadened definition of Islamophobia, but it has not been adopted by the government. According to a government spokesperson:

“We are conscious that the [all-party parliamentary group’s] proposed definition has not been broadly accepted – unlike the IHRA definition of antisemitism before it was adopted by the UK government and other international organisations and governments. This is a matter that needs further careful consideration.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council, which represents the leaders of law enforcement in England and Wales, have also expressed concern with the broadened definition. Its chair, Martin Hewitt, said:

“We take all reports of hate crime very seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. However, we have some concerns about the proposed definition of Islamophobia made by the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. We are concerned that the definition is too broad as currently drafted, could cause confusion for officers enforcing it and could be used to challenge legitimate free speech on the historical or theological actions of Islamic states. There is also a risk it could also undermine counter-terrorism powers, which seek to tackle extremism or prevent terrorism”.

Richard Walton, a former head of Counter-Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police, wrote:

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