Hate Crime Laws — Do they; Can they work?
Hate Crime in the UK
Cato; “Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech.”
One September Thursday morning, in 2016, a politically-correct, fully-loaded gravy train clattered into a chic hotel in central London, disgorging around 50 smartly dressed men and women who then sashayed across the deep-pile carpets to collect their complimentary coffees in its air-conditioned conference centre.
The group, or rather their employers, had paid between £359 and £575 to attend a day-long feeding event.
Some of these people were civil servants, others charity workers and academics.
A handful worked in the private sector, though rather more appeared to be employed by the taxpayer; via local councils, British police forces, and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The event bringing this eclectic crowd together was the sixth annual “Tackling Hate Crime Conference;” an expensive and painstakingly organised shindig staged each autumn by the £6.5 billion FTSE 100 Corporation, “Capita.”
The purpose of this particular “Trough session,” according to its promotional literature, was to provide a forum to discuss how best to “respond to the surging growth of hate crime” in the UK, which the same literature; breathless with self-excitement; insisted has “risen 57 per cent since the EU referendum vote.”
With this in mind, speaker after speaker waxed lyrical about how violent and intolerant the nation has become in 2016, or called for Draconian measures to combat the “rising tide” of bigotry on our streets.
The modern UK, delegates were repeatedly told, is a country riven by homophobia and racism, where to be foreign, disabled or belong to a religious or sexual minority is to fall blamelessly into the firing line of virulent abuse.
One speaker, from Southwark Council, talked vividly about the extraordinary bigotry she encounters on a daily basis, making the shocking claim that the “youngest perpetrator of hate crime” she’d come across lately was “a four-year-old child who harassed a lesbian couple.”
That’s all very sobering.
Or so you might think.
But behind the lurid rhetoric, not everything was quite as it seems.
Take, for example, the conference organiser’s headline claim: that hate crime has, “Risen 57 per cent since the EU referendum vote.”
This eye-catching figure has certainly done the rounds in recent months, regularly bandied about by liberal commentators; especially the BBC.
Yet dig into its provenance and things soon start to smell distinctly fishy.
For the “57 per cent” number was actually plucked from a single press release issued by the National Police Chief’s Council on 27th June, four days after the EU ballot took place.
The document in question specifically stated that police forces had recorded, “no major spikes in tensions” since the UK went to the polls.
However, its footnote added that 85 people had logged hate crime incidents on “True Vision,” a website that records unverified allegations of such behaviour, during the four days in question, up from 54 during the corresponding period a month earlier.
What exactly did this mean?
The police press release made things clear. “This should not be read as a national increase in hate crime of 57 per cent but an increase in reporting through one mechanism” over a single 96-hour period.
Which begs the question; why publish those figures in the first place?
As predictably as night follows day, fast forward three months, and those numbers ARE being used to portray, “a national increase in hate crime of 57 per cent.”
As we have seen above, organisers of the Tackling Hate Crime Conference were using it to allege that hate crime had risen by 57 per cent across the UK during the entire period since the Brexit vote.
This is demonstrably untrue; running diametrically contrary to the advice in that original press release…
Or, to put things another way; Capita was shamelessly promoting its £600-a-head event by falsely representing unverified raw data that had been collected over the internet during a four-day period in June, last year; having been warned against doing exactly that.
When reporters put this to Capita, they hurriedly withdrew the 57 per cent claim from their promotional literature, describing its inclusion as, “an innocent error.”
It was an error, undoubtedly; but about as innocent as Herod…
Benjamin Franklin, 1737; “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government. When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved; and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”
If you spend any time exploring “hate crime” and the growing and lucrative industry that increasingly surrounds it, you’ll find such cavalier behaviour is par for the course.
For the more you investigate, the more it turns out to be a deeply cynical industry where dishonesty and hysteria reign. Truth has been replaced with Left-wing dogma, and verifiable facts no longer count for anything at all.
The fact is the UK is actually a remarkably tolerant country.
We have been accepting and absorbing immigrants of all castes & colours, both refugees & economic migrants, for centuries. Some, like the Romans, Danes & Normans, arrived forcibly; others, such as Jews, Huguenots, French Aristos & East African Asians, sought refuge; yet more, from all corners of the Commonwealth have been invited, chiefly to combat our labour shortage; (war destroys the work force first;) but all in their turn have been woven into our cultural fabric.
Gay marriage is not just legal but supported by a comfortable majority of adults.
Children from ethnic minorities consistently outperform white working-class counterparts at school and in university.
Surveys by the respected and politically neutral think-tank “Pew Research;” along with the prestigious “British Social Attitudes Survey;” show that racial prejudice is in long-term and probably terminal decline.
Yet despite such trends, we are routinely described as being in the grip of a “hate crime epidemic” where a few high-profile incidents; such as the recent murder of a Polish immigrant on the streets of Harlow; which may or may not eventually prove to be race-related; are said to represent the tip of a sinister iceberg, and where the number of hate offences seems to grow year by year.
In 2012/3, police recorded 42,255 of them. In 2013/4, the number was 44,471 and in 2014/15, it was 52,528.
Of course it should be stressed that genuine hate crime cannot be tolerated.
Recently, for example, the Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth described being sent 25,000 abusive messages by members of “Momentum,” her party’s Corbyn-supporting far Left, one of which referred to her as a “Yid c***.”
But “Hate Crime” has become one of the great political buzz-phrases of the moment.
To this end, virtually the first thing Home Secretary Amber Rudd did after taking office was to launch a “Hate Crime Action Plan.”
The Home Affairs Select Committee is holding an inquiry into “Hate Crime and its violent consequences.”
Evelyn Beatrice Hall, but often mis-attributed to Voltaire; “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
In October, the Government is promoting “Hate Crime Awareness Week.”
It’s spending £2.4 million on a fund for churches and mosques to protect themselves against hate crimes, while the Metropolitan Police have created a £1.7 million “Crime Hub” to target online “Trolls.”
Elsewhere, universities such as Leicester and Sussex employ academics in “Centres” for “Hate Crime Studies.”
The taxpayer hands over six-figure grants to charities which seek to “Combat” or “Monitor” hate crime.
Police forces employ staff to log it.
Councils such as Kensington and Chelsea now have a “Community Support Officer for Hate Crime.”
The Crown Prosecution Service has a “Hate Crime Co-ordinator” in all 13 regions, plus “Area-based Equality, Diversity and Community Engagement Managers” who contribute to the delivery of the “Hate Crime Assurance Scheme.”
These people, whose leading lights spent that Thursday at Capita’s conference, owe their jobs, status and mortgages to the fashionable perception that hate crime is somehow spiralling out of control.
That, in turn, has led to two distinct trends.
The first is a relentless pressure to widen the number of people able to describe themselves as “Victims” of such crimes.
When Tony Blair first introduced hate laws, in 1998, they applied only to incidents of racial intolerance.
However in 2003, the net was widened to include religious discrimination.
Over subsequent years, first homophobic and then “Transphobic” abuse was added to the list, along with disability hate crime and, more recently “crimes against older people.”
All current categories (with the inexplicable exception of elder abuse) can result in “sentence uplift;” in other words, a likely increase in jail time; if a case goes to court and results in a conviction.
With 52,528 “reported” offences in 2015, 15,442 Hate Crime prosecutions took place, with 12,845 convictions, of which around a third saw “sentence uplift.”
That means that about two-thirds; approx 8,000 of those offences, prosecuted as Hate Crimes, were not subsequently considered as such by the courts.
Recently, a new category of potential victim emerged: it was reported that several police forces may soon treat “Misogyny” as a hate crime, following the alleged success of a pilot scheme in Nottingham where it was decided that wolf-whistling could in certain circumstances constitute “Threatening Behaviour.”
Women may not be the only new demographic singled out for protection, either.
Consider, if you will, the annual report of “Stop Hate UK,” an influential charity which gets around £240,000 a year from grants, largely from the public sector.
It suggests that “Goths” or people who choose to wear black clothes are potential hate crime victims; including undertakers perhaps?
To this end, it contains a “Case study” of abuse supposedly suffered by a “Goth woman [who] has five facial piercings.”
If we’re going to include people who choose to wear black clothes, how about men who insist on wearing socks with sandals; or, heaven forbid, “Crocs” with or without socks?
How long will it be before the “obese” are included in the hate victim list? Or are they already there, as “disabled”?
And don’t forget “Gingers” or aging men with pony-tails…
In such an environment, where almost anyone seems to be a potential “Hate” victim, should we really be surprised if reported “Hate” incidents are on the rise?
Mark Steyn; “There’s no fine line between “free speech” and “hate speech;” Free speech is hate speech; it’s for the speech you hate; and for all your speech that the other guy hates. If you don’t have free speech, then you can’t have an honest discussion.”
The problem, however, comes when the definition of what constitutes a hate crime becomes risibly vague.
After all, the subjective way in which the police now categorise such offences is hardly what could be described as “forensic.”
Under their official guidance, hate crime is now deemed to be “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice.”
Proof of such intent is not necessarily required, the guidance adds: “Evidence of … hostility is not required … The perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor.”
In essence, this means that anyone, anywhere, can force officers to treat something as a hate crime.
All it takes is a vague “Perception.”
Such rules are perverse and open to abuse.
They mean that, in theory, a straight white male punched in a pub fight can easily falsely claim his assailant thought he was gay, and therefore motivated by homophobia.
Such an incident will duly be investigated as a hate crime, with the police and CPS under pressure to prosecute.
If they fail, the “Victim” can potentially claim to have suffered so-called “Secondary victimisation,” in which the “Hate” he or she experienced is compounded by the police’s lack of sensitivity.
The second great modern trend has been for the police, assorted quangocrats and other publicly funded organisations to go to extreme lengths to ensure the number of reported hate crimes is as high as possible.
Consider, in this context, the aforementioned police website “True Vision.”
It allows anyone, anywhere in the UK, to report an incident, even if they were not the victim, have no idea of the victim’s identity, can provide no supporting evidence, and would prefer to remain anonymous.
The “incidents” thus reported then get logged as official statistics; rebranded as “crimes” and, as we have seen above; despite official warnings to the contrary, used by ‘experts’ to draw sweeping conclusions (invariably negative) about the state of the nation.
Seldom has such a system been more open to abuse than in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, when Left-wing media outlets predicted a “surge of xenophobia” and disheartened Remainians attempted to prove them right.
On Twitter, the hashtag “#postbrexit-racism” went viral.
On Facebook, a forum called “Worrying signs” was established for “anyone dealing with post-Brexit fallout” to post reports of hate crime. From here, users were directed to True Vision.
Unsurprisingly, many allegedly racist incidents posted in that forum turned out to be anything but.
On visiting True Vision on 19th October, I see a quote from the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton;
“We have seen continued decreases in reports of hate crimes to forces and these reports have now returned to formerly seen levels for 2016.”
Unsurprisingly again, this has not made the headlines.
So we have the Hate Crime Industry actively spreading the net to include as many categories of “victim” as possible and devising more and more ways for the alleged crimes to be reported.
For, to quote the old saying, the liberal Left has a supply-and-demand problem with bigotry: there just isn’t enough being supplied to go around to support the apocalyptic world view that they hold so dear; therefore they demand more.
When recording the incidents referred to above, I wonder how much attention is paid to the “Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006,” which amended the “Public Order Act 1986” by adding Part 3A; referring to a required absolute intention on behalf of the alleged offender; “…to stir up religious hatred.”
Because that amendment also tells us that “Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which: Prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions…”
That means that discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions is perfectly acceptable in law, as long as there is no proven intent to stir up religious hatred.
It is worth remembering also that the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 amended Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986; including; “In the circumstances of hatred based on religious belief or on sexual orientation, the relevant act… …must be threatening and not just abusive or insulting.”
In an article in the London Evening Standard on 10th October, the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, displayed his ignorance when he was quoted as saying, “…anyone who witnesses or experiences abusive behaviour should report it to the police immediately.”
On 3rd October, 2016, the “European Commission against Racism and Intolerance,” which is part of the Strasbourg-based “Council of Europe,” [originally nothing to do with the EU,] published a report that claimed that the EU referendum seems to have led to “considerable intolerant political discourse focusing on immigration and contributing to an increase in xenophobic sentiment,” in the UK.
I must say it’s hardly surprising that there has been “considerable political discourse focusing on immigration,” in that the EU’s much vaunted “Freedom of Movement;” more accurately the exploitation of cheap labour; was and still is a major bone-of-contention within the Brexit debate.
The commission said a particularly high number of violent racist incidents occurred in 2013, with a sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence.
The report, which takes account of developments from 2009 to March 2016, said online hate speech targeting Muslims in particular has soared since 2013.
In its recommendations, drawn up following a visit to the UK in November 2015, the ECRI suggested the British press be regulated to prevent it from publishing anything considered to be hate speech via the introduction of a press regulator.
It singled out the press’s coverage of Islamic terrorist incidents for particular censure, suggesting that media outlets refrain from reporting the Islamic motives of terrorist attacks to avoid a “backlash” against Muslims.
In the report, the Commission said: “ECRI considers that, in light of the fact that Muslims are increasingly under the spotlight as a result of recent ISIS-related terrorist acts around the world, fuelling prejudice against Muslims shows a reckless disregard, not only for the dignity of the great majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom, but also for their safety.”
I suppose that’s why so many incidents nowadays are put down to “Mental health issues.”
Christian Ahlund, the commission’s chair, said: “It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians.”
Mr Ahlund apparently includes political vitriol as “Hate Speech” and Brexiteers & Remainians as “Victims.”
He continued, “The Brexit referendum seems to have led to a further rise in ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, making it even more important that the British authorities take the steps outlined in our report as a matter of priority.”
Sam Harris; “The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you.”
Hate crime, being the rising sector of the Race-Relations & Diversity industry that it is; as mentioned above, the Government launched a new action plan to “tackle” it in July, 2016.
Our Minister for “Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism,” Sarah Newton, said: “We are clear that there is no excuse for hate crime against anyone of any nationality, ethnicity or religious background; it has no place whatsoever in our diverse society.”
There is never an excuse for any crime; but I’d suggest, there can be mitigating circumstances and above all, reasons.
She continued, “We welcome that the Commission has recognised the strength of our new hate crime action plan which will help reduce hate crime, increase reporting and improve support for victims.”
Improving “support for victims” if successful, is to be applauded; but reducing hate crime & increasing reporting are actually mutually exclusive; the two are incompatible.
Remember the official Police guidance; hate crime is now deemed to be “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice. The perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor.”
Almost uniquely, in relation to hate crime; the more reporting, the more crime; it’s as simple as that.
The report from the “European Commission against Racism and Intolerance” laid much emphasis on anti-Muslim violence in the UK. This falls slap in the middle of the UK’s Hate Crime spectrum; coincidentally just as green, the colour of Islam falls into the middle of the rainbow.
Over the past decades, much has been spoken and written on this and the pundits have produced reams on the evils of “Islamophobia.”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “Islamophobia;” [a neologism formed from Islam and -phobia, a suffix used in English to form nouns with the sense ‘fear of’,’ or ‘aversion to;’] has been in use since 1923 and means an intense dislike or fear of Islam.
Over time it has come to mean hostility or prejudice towards Muslims.
But it is a word that has been much abused. Even the OED did it, when, in their own words, within one sentence, they upgraded phobia from “aversion” to “intense dislike.”
The Berkeley University “Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project” went further, suggesting this so-called “working definition:”
“Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalising the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilisational rehab” of the target communities. Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.”
I don’t know how they can define that as a “working definition,” but the average British man-in-the-street usually sticks with “Fear or dislike of Islam;” and in my book, that’s fine and understandable.
I don’t think it is right to automatically couple a justifiable fear or dislike of Islam with prejudice or discrimination.
Though I accept that sometimes Islamophobia can & does indeed lead to prejudice, discrimination and crime.
No doubt some of you will question my use of that phrase “justifiable fear;”
The Japanese names “Haruna Yukawa” & “Kenji Jogo” probably mean nothing to you.
But I wonder, what about the name “James Foley”?
Or “Steven Sotloff;” “Hervé Gourdel;” “Peter Kassig” or “Raad al-Azzawi;” or even “Mohammed Emwazi”
Perhaps, it’s just possible, in fact quite likely that “David Haines” or “Alan Henning” will ring a bell?
They are all names that figured in world news headlines, prominently & often a couple of years ago; but the shame is that memories; especially headline memories, fade so fast.
James Foley was an American freelance journalist and photojournalist reporting on the Syrian Civil War, who was abducted on 22nd November 2012, in north-western Syria.
As far as we know, Foley was the first American citizen to be beheaded by the so-called “Jihadi John.”
His murder-video was released onto the internet on 19th August 2014.
Steven Sotloff was an Israeli-American journalist working for Time magazine and The Jerusalem Post.
In 2013, he was kidnapped in Aleppo, Syria, and was held captive by Daʿesh.
On 2nd September 2014, a video was released showing his beheading by “Jihadi John.”
David Haines, a British aid-worker from Yorkshire, was abducted in March 2013 by an “unknown armed gang,” while working in Syria for a refugee aid group assessing the Atmeh refugee camp near the Turkish border, in the Syrian province of Idlib.
He was handed over, or sold to Daʿesh and was shown in the Sotloff murder video.
He was himself beheaded, also by “Jihadi John,” on or about 13th September 2014; the release-date of that video.
Hervé Gourdel was a French citizen and mountaineering guide.
He was kidnapped on 21st September 2014, while hiking in the Djurdjura National Park in Algeria.
The following day, a recently formed Daʿesh affiliate in Algeria, Jund al-Khilafah, now referred to as “the Algerian Province of the Islamic State,” released a video which showed Hervé Gourdel being held hostage.
The group threatened to kill him if the French government continued airstrikes against Daʿesh in Syria.
On 24th September, they carried out their threat to behead him after a 24-hour deadline had passed.
Alan Henning from Eccles, Greater Manchester, was a taxi-driver & humanitarian aid worker.
He was captured during the Daʿesh occupation of the Syrian city of Al-Dana in December 2013, where he was helping with humanitarian relief.
On 3rd October 2014 Henning became the fourth Western hostage beheaded by “Jihadi John.”
Raad al-Azzawi was a TV cameraman from the village of Samra, east of Tikrit in Iraq, working for the French organisation, “Reporters Sans Frontières.”
On 7th September 2014 Daʿesh seized him and on 11th October he was publicly beheaded, along with his brother and several other civilians.
Peter Kassig was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.
He worked in Syria and Lebanon as a humanitarian aid worker.
In one interview, he said; “I took a chance. There wasn’t a single person when I told them I was coming to Lebanon who said, ‘Yeah, that’s a great idea. You should do that.’”
On 1st October 2013, as he was on his way to Deir Ezzour in eastern Syria to deliver food and medical supplies to refugees, he was captured by Daʿesh.
He was 26 years old when he was beheaded on or around 16th November 2014.
In the video that depicted Peter Kassig’s death, Daʿesh included the beheading of 21 Syrian soldiers in gruesome detail.
Haruna Yukawa was a Japanese national who aspired to become a private military contractor, providing protection to Japanese companies in areas of conflict.
In April 2014, he was in Syria when he was captured by the Free Syrian Army.
Japanese journalist Kenji Jogo was brought in by FSA to interpret; Goto secured Yukawa’s release and both men returned to Japan.
But Yukawa soon went back to Syria, where he disappeared sometime in July 2014.
In October 2014, Goto also returned to Syria; he was soon captured as well.
The two appeared in a video in January 2015 in which Daʿesh gave the Japanese government a deadline of 72 hours to pay a ransom of $200 million.
The deadline passed without ransom being paid, and a video of Yukawa’s beheading was released.
By the end of the month, the group released another video of the beheading of Goto, in which the so-called “Jihadi John” addressed Japanese Prime Minister, saying;
“Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin.”
On 15th February 2015, Daʿesh’s al-Hayat Media Centre posted a video on Twitter entitled “a message signed with blood to the nation of the cross.”
It showed the beheading of 21 Coptic-Christian Egyptian building workers, by the sea shore, in Tripoli, Libya.
They had been kidnapped in Sirte in late December 2014.
On 26th February 2015, “Jihadi John” was identified as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British citizen in his mid-20s from West London.
In November 2015, it was reported that he had been killed in a US drone strike.
Those are just some of the public beheadings; committed by Daʿesh; videoed & widely distributed on the internet.
With that barrage of intentional, international publicity;
“WWW PR” on a sophisticated, professional level;
Put out by an extremist, self-proclaimed Islamic organisation;
Is it at all surprising that there has been a rise in anti-Islamic sentiments, worldwide, not just in the UK?
That was, after all the intent.
Woeful attempts to deflect this by Western leaders;
Blair, Obama & Cameron specifically, posing as theologians; describing al Qa’ida, Daʿesh, and other groups as “unislamic” or “not representative of ‘True Islam,’” have failed.
How can they pronounce on the opinions of a God they don’t believe in?
And, more to the point, why would any young, potentially ‘radicalised’ Muslim, because that is partly who they are addressing; take their, word?
Obama, Blair et al are all “Infidels” after all.
In the light of the preachings Anjem Choudary, Abu-Hamza & their like;
Groups of Muslim demonstrators baying for “Death to British soldiers;” with impunity; at Army Home-coming parades;
And the well-known statistic that 90% of Sunni Muslims world-wide either “sympathise with,” or actually “support” Daʿesh;
Public credulity just doesn’t stretch far enough either.
Many of us have read-up on Islam; both the religion itself and the activities of organisations connected to it.
For example; we know that the UK maintains a list of proscribed terrorist organisations; currently numbering 70 worldwide plus 14 Irish, and recently 2 or three “right-wing.” Of those 70 worldwide, all but 9 are Islamic.
Lead by my own fear of encroaching Islam, I have read a lot about it and, in my turn written quite a lot.
And I have found very little to assuage my fears.
Just as there are many different sects within Christianity, Islam is also divided several ways.
And where history shows us that hundreds of years ago, Christianity’s divisions often proved to be deadly; today, the splits within Islam still are; perhaps more than Christian intra-faith disputes ever were.
The ongoing competition within Islam, about who are the true followers of Allah, and therefore the “Real Muslims”, is the main cause of the strife we see all over the Middle East; and where Islam travels that competition travels with it.
And it is the stated aim of Islam, that the whole world be converted and that Shari’a hold sway wherever Islam is in the majority.
With about 1.6 billion followers or 23% of the global population, Islam is the second-largest, and the fastest-growing religion in the world.
Taking in all that; then, adding into the mix; 9/11 in New York, 7/7 in London, Lee Rigby, Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan Theatre, Brussels’ airport etc.
Plus the veritable tsunami of, mainly Muslim, refugees/economic migrants flooding into Europe;
The activities of Libyan soldiers out of Bassingbourn Barracks; and paedophile rings in Rotherham & Oxford all have their effect.
And as a finishing touch; rightly or wrongly, Syrian refugees being housed in the UK; while we have waiting-lists containing hundreds and homeless UK citizens numbering thousands.
Is it any wonder that discontent, based not on any phobia; but genuine, rational fear of Islam; continues to grow?
Fear and dislike of Islam is not unjustified.
The only people that have fomented fear & prejudice of Islam are the extreme Islamists themselves; be they Al Qa’ida, Daʿesh, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab or any one of the other 57 varieties on the UK proscribed list.
Are we really surprised to hear that European Commission against Racism and Intolerance speak of “…a particularly high number of violent racist incidents occurred in 2013, with a sharp rise in anti-Muslim violence;” or report that “…online hate speech targeting Muslims in particular has soared since 2013.”
The question is what do we do about it?
Is legislating against, and therefore contemplating punishing those who are in fear the right answer?
Is protecting the source of that fear right?
The first duty of the state is always to protect its citizens.
Instead of legislating against those who fear; shouldn’t we be dealing with the cause of that fear?
The fear comes from Islam;
And varies depending on whether it stems from not understanding, partly understanding or fully understanding.
Fear of what we don’t understand; the unknown; is common.
It can normally be resolved with education.
In the case of Islam, education, if it doesn’t result in outright conversion, will lead to the fear being further; more solidly established.
There is a trap that both Islamophobes and non-Muslim Islam-apologists seem to fall into.
That trap is Generalisation; bundling all Muslims together in one bag, and labelling it “Islam.”
A good example of that is David Cameron’s oft stated, “Islam is the Religion of Peace.”
There is one aspect of Islam that is shared by all Muslims, and is the determination to convert the world.
But Daʿesh and al Qa’ida in the Middle East; the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan; Boko Haram in West Africa; and al-Shabaab in East Africa; are all Islamic groups, aiming to create Islamic caliphates, governed by Shari’a, in those regions.
None of them are exactly what might be called “shining examples” of a “Religion of Peace.”
All that differentiates them from the rest of Islam is the amount of extreme violence and brutality they employ in furthering their religion’s spread.
Most Muslims belong to one of two denominations: 75–90% are Sunni and 10–20% Shiite.
The other denominations are Sufism, Ahmadiyya, Mahdavia, Quranism, Kharij (now virtually non-existent), Murji’ah and Ibāḍiyya. These denominations are further divided into over 30 different sects.
At one end of the “Islamic spectrum,” within Sunni Islam some sects are distinctive & extreme; and Wahhabism is one such.
Orthodox, ultraconservative, austere, fundamentalist and puritanical; Wahhabism is named after an 18th century cleric, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who started the movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd; in present-day Saudi Arabia.
He formed a pact with a local tribal war-lord Muhammad bin Saud, offering political obedience in exchange for Saud’s patronage, and protection for his Wahhabi movement.
The alliance between Wahhabis and the House of Saud proved to be a long & fruitful one. The House of Saud continued to maintain and promote the Wahhabi sect through to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
Today Wahhabism is the state-sponsored and dominant form of Islam in the UK’s ally, Saudi Arabia.
It is also generally acknowledged as being the main source of global terrorism, and for causing disunity in the Muslim community by labelling all non-Sunni Muslims, and even some Sunnis, as apostates; deserving execution.
Salafism is another extreme Sunni sect.
The terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often interchangeable; they are considered to be similar movements with different roots that have merged since the 1960s. But Wahhabism has also been called a particular orientation within Salafism or an ultra-conservative, Saudi brand of Salafism.
Salafism has also become associated with literalist, strict and puritanical approaches to Islam. Salafists preach violent jihad against those they consider enemies of Islam; violent jihad being a legitimate expression of Islam.
Osama bin Laden was a Wahhabi/Salafist Sunni.
Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the leader of “al-Nusra Front,” or “Jabhat al-Nusra,” sometimes called “al Qa’ida in Syria,” is a Wahhabi/Salafist Sunni.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daʿesh, is a Salafist Sunni.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the overall leader of al Qa’ida is a Salafist Sunni.
Another movement within Sunni Islam that it is important to mention are the Deobandi.
Centred primarily in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, the Deobandi are also firmly ensconced in the United Kingdom.
The name derives from Deoband, India, where it started. The movement was founded in 1867, in the wake of the British reaction to the “Indian Mutiny.”
In receipt of much Saudi funding, the Deobandi in the Indian sub-continent have been strongly influenced by Salafist-Wahhabism and some Deobandis describe themselves as Wahhabi or Wahhabi-Deobandi, or Salafist-Deobandi.
20% of Pakistan’s Sunni Muslims consider themselves Deobandi.
About 600 of the UK’s 1,500 mosques are Deobandi, and 17 of the UK’s 26 Islamic seminaries follow Sunni Deobandi teachings, producing 80% of all domestically trained Ulema (Clerics).
Anjem Choudary, the notorious British-born, Islamist lawyer/cleric; currently residing in a British prison; is a Deobandi.
“Tablighi Jamaat” the organisation to which the San Bernardino killers, Syed Farook & his wife, belonged, is a Salafist-Deobandi group.
At the other end of the Islamic spectrum there are the Ahmadiyya, or the ‘Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at;’ another Islamic sect founded in British India in the 19th century, that form the bulk of what is nowadays described as “Moderate Islam”.
Ahmadiyya originated with the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad; its adherents are referred to as Ahmadi Muslims or simply Ahmadis.
Ahmadis believe that Ahmad appeared as a prophet in the likeness of Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice, and peace. They believe that he divested Islam of fanatical beliefs and practices by championing what are, in their view, Islam’s true teachings; “Love for all; Hatred for none.”
Ahmadis therefore view themselves as leading the peaceful; but still relentless propagation of Islam.
According to the “World Christian Encyclopaedia,” the Ahmadiyya movement is the fastest growing sect within Islam.
Unfortunately, because Ahmad claimed to be a prophet; contrary to mainstream Muslim belief that Mohammed was the “last” prophet; the Sunnis consider Ahmadiyya to be heretics, deserving death; and remember, 90% of Muslims are Sunni.
Most independent sources estimate the Ahmadi population to be between 10 to 20 million worldwide, thereby representing around 1% of the world’s Muslim population.
Pakistan’s Ahmadis, of whom there are about 4 million, more than in any other country; were declared to be non-Muslims by the government in 1974; in effect, their faith has been criminalised and persecution enshrined in Pakistani Law.
The word “Muslim” was erased from the gravestone of the Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, Abdus Salam, because he was an Ahmadi.
In 2010 in Lahore, in a targeted murderous attack on a mosque; 93 Ahmadiyya worshippers were killed including a number of Britons.
The Ahmadiyya first came to the United Kingdom in 1913. And in 1926, their Fazl Mosque in Wandsworth became the London’s first mosque. The sect expanded to include Ahmadi mosques and mission houses across the country. The Baitul Futuh mosque, in Morden, Surrey, is one of the largest mosques in Western Europe.
As of 2016, there are approximately 25,000 Ahmadis in the UK, which has become something of a refuge from the violence of Pakistan.
Asad Shah was an Ahmadiyya shopkeeper in Glasgow. On 24th March, 2016, he was murdered by a Sunni, Tanveer Ahmed, from Bradford, in what the police characterised as “religious prejudice.” He died because he had had the temerity to wish his Christian neighbours a “Happy Easter.”
It is now clear that the sectarianism of Pakistan has pursued them to Britain, particularly in the form of the Khatme Nubuwwat movement, which is closely associated with the Stockwell Green mosque, in South London. The purpose of the movement (meaning “finality of the Prophethood”), is to refute the claims of the Ahmadiyya, and to inform all Muslims that they are in fact “traitors to Islam;” a “destructive” sect with a “filthy agenda” that allegedly helps Zionism.
Leaflets calling for the killing of Ahmadis, as apostates, if they did not convert to mainstream Islam, were found in the mosque after the murder of Asad Shah. The Ahmadi and others point-out that this sort of propaganda is brainwashing young Muslims and inciting them to violence.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is a body that the government regularly consults with on all Muslim matters. It isn’t much help in this instance because it does not recognise the Ahmadis as Muslims either.
The Crown Prosecution Service decided that no crime had been committed and no charges were brought.
An Ahmadiyya spokesperson said that a judicial review was being considered and asked for an inquiry into the CPS decision. However, no judicial review or inquiry occurred.
Who are the real Muslims?
Who are the authentic followers of the Islamic faith?
Surely a Muslim must be one who, when asked, says: “I am a Muslim.”
All the Western leaders have their Muslim advisers. But as I’ve mentioned, there are many forms of Islam; eight distinct sects, and about thirty sub-groups. That is a lot of different ideas on who is a “True Muslim.”
So how many and of which sects, are the advisers of these politicians?
Whose word do our leaders take, when they affirm that Daʿesh doesn’t represent true Islam?
How can we be sure that what we call “Radicalised” isn’t in fact “Devout”?
As Matthew Syed, writing in The Times last year, said, “Members of ISIS (Daʿesh) say they are true Muslims. They say they are inspired by the Qur’an. They say that they are killing and maiming people because that’s what Allah wants them to do. They talk about their love of God and the glories of Martyrdom. It would seem only fair that if we’re going to take other Muslims at their word, we should take members of ISIS at their word, too.”
Hard to accept as that may be, the same should also be said of the members of al Qa’ida, the Taliban, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and the rulers of Qatar & Saudi Arabia.
Actually there are real difficulties with the whole concept of trust, or “taking them at their word.”
Within Shari’a, there are doctrines which, by their mere existence, whether practiced or not, render trust problematic.
One such doctrine is “Taysir” (Ease); taking the easy way, which allows for insincere conformity when in a minority position; so appearing to be a “moderate” Muslim.
The other doctrine I refer to is “Taqiyya” or “Kitman” (Deception). This is not only permitted in certain situations but may be deemed obligatory in others.
The Qur’an instructs “If you are under non-Muslims’ authority, behave loyally to them with your tongue while harbouring inner animosity for them.” In modern times, it is understood that Kitman and Taqiyya are both accepted forms of altering or concealing information.
Although these doctrines may not be practiced by all Muslims; some of the Muslim advisers to Western politicians, even some of the Muslim politicians within Western parliaments, may be using them. They may not; but the mere fact that such doctrines, which apparently authorise, even oblige the use of deceit, exist within Shari’a, must throw a spanner-in-the-works of trust.
If a Muslim, of any sect, says to you, “Yes, Islam authorises us to lie if we think it’s necessary; but I don’t do that.”
Why would you believe that?
Both the Bible and the Qur’an were compiled from ancient & contradictory manuscripts that contain passages that can, very easily, be interpreted as condoning, authorising or even encouraging extreme violence against “non-believers,” “apostates,” “heretics” and any others who break the religions rules, or have other beliefs.
Apostasy is committed when a member of a religion renounces it and converts to another; or, as is common nowadays, by being a member of the “wrong” sect within a religion. Apostasy will still earn the one convicted of it, death in Deera Square, known as “Chop-chop” Square, in Riyadh; or absolutely any public place in the realm of Daʿesh.
Having reached the point where religious differences are dealt with so extremely; when it comes to resolving those differences and trying to live in peace with one another, there are obviously immense difficulties.
Within a scientific context, people who disagree with each other can examine the evidence. They can debate or argue; they can perform experiments, or deduce evidence from the experiments of others. Decisions about right or wrong depend on logic, evidence and proof.
Religions, all religions rely on faith; logic is irrelevant, and evidence and proof are impossible.
Christianity, began its existence under persecution 2,000 years ago, and later did its own fair share of persecuting non-believers and heretics, including trading tit-for-tat massacres with the relatively young Islam, during the Crusades.
Christianity has improved its record of violence in recent centuries, but only by becoming less sanctimonious; less self-righteous; less “We’re right and you’re wrong.”
The more Christianity has moved from preaching, “Our God is the only God”, or “Our way of worship is the only right way;” the less it has killed people for being of a different faith.
Where Christianity has moved away from literal obedience of the Bible; Islam remains totally bound by the Qur’an.
Where you can find a Gideons’ Bible in virtually every hotel room in the UK; for them to leave one in a Saudi hotel drawer would be a capital crime.
It’s a good many years since Christians hanged a witch; whereas in Saudi Arabia, a man “found in possession of talismans,” was beheaded for Sorcery as recently as June 2012.
Jalal Uddin was an Immam; a kind man who lived a simple life, providing religious education to the young and spiritual support to the sick, elderly and grieving in Rochdale’s Bangladeshi community. He also practised “Ruqya” or “Taweez;” a form of Islamic healing in which he made amulets to bring good fortune to the wearer.
Daʿesh considers this to be “black magic” and adheres to the view that those who engage in it deserve execution. For that reason two of their Manchester adherents Mohammed Hussain Syeedy and Mohammed Abdul Kadir beat 71-year-old Jalal Uddin to death with a hammer in a Rochdale children’s play area in February, 2016.
Most Christians today associate truth with evidence, reason and proof; and though holding on to their own faith, accept that others should be able to believe otherwise, or even, not at all.
Uniformity isn’t what’s required; just living peacefully with differences.
Despite all the work of ecumenical movements, the likelihood of the Church of England rejoining the Church of Rome is as remote as it ever was.
Can we hold out any hope that given time, Islam will manage to reform enough to live amicably with its internecine & external differences, and so cease to be threat so many see, or merely perceive it to be?
I wonder if we’ve now put the cart before the horse by providing Islam with carte blanche protection under the law.
Not only are we under threat from Islamic extremists in many parts of the world, as well as at home; Islam itself is a threat to our culture, if only in its determination to spread itself, and thus the rule of Shari’a, throughout the world.
There are some Islamic countries that allow Christianity a place; surprising to some, the Islamic Republic of Iran being one; but it is a limited place and in Saudi Arabia neither Christians nor Atheists have any such protection at all.
Not for one moment am I suggesting that Muslims should be persecuted or barred; as Christians are in Saudi Arabia.
But neither should other UK citizens be punished because they fear Islam’s spread.
Every step possible should be taken to counteract that fear.
Not so many years ago, long after the outright persecution of Roman Catholics had ended in the UK; but papacy was still deemed a threat to our Protestant culture; Roman Catholics were barred from public office. They are still barred from the Throne.
Yet nowadays, at a time when the Islamic threat is so great, we have Muslim Councillors, Magistrates, Judges, MPs, Ministers and Peers.
The current Mayor of London is a Muslim and has been the subject of many comments and rumours regarding associations and friendships in his past. But we are kept in ignorance about his religious affiliations.
Muslims in public office, either elected or appointed, should be required to declare their denomination, along with their other interests. Naturally this would have to include those appointed or used as “advisors” to those in public office.
The UK is a Christian country and must remain so.
Therefore, all Mosques (perhaps all non-Christian places of worship) should be regulated and monitored, as if they were licensed premises; with the same automatic right-of-entry by the police.
The use of Shari’a must be purely limited to Muslim affairs; never to have any bearing on non-Muslims; and never to conflict with UK law, which must remain supreme.
If there is one question that most concerns the public around the question of radical Islam it is “What is the connection between the extremists and the moderates?”
Leading politicians across the Western world have not been much help in answering this question, insisting as they do, that radical Islam has nothing to do with Islam and that the extremists are as far away from the moderates as it is possible to be.
Yet the public senses that this is not the case.
Despite the amazing lack of public debate about the actual contours of the discussion, the public knows that something is not right about the analysis provided by Liberal politicians and others.
Indeed, the public notices not only that there is some connection between the two but that the connection may be closer than anyone would like. A fine example of this was thrown up in the UK a few months ago, in the space of just 24 hours.
One Friday the London Evening Standard carried a story about the police launching a possible “hate crime” investigation into literature that the paper had discovered being handed out at a London mosque.
The potential “hate crime” was not the most common variety; a mean Tweet or a nasty FaceBook comment; but the sort of thing we used to call “incitement.”
The literature in question; being handed out at a mosque in Walthamstow consisted of a booklet which insisted that “any Muslim should kill” anyone who insults the Prophet of Islam. Those who insult Mohammed “must be killed,” it repeated.
The pamphlet backed up this point of view with reference to classical Islamic law and explained that in the case of those who “insult” Mohammed, such as apostates who “deserve to be assassinated,” it was not necessary to wait for any court or court judgement to rule.
Better to just get on with it on your own, was the advice.
As is becoming increasingly familiar to indigenous British people as much as it is to British Pakistanis, the booklet referred to the seminal case of Mumtaz Qadri; the Pakistani man who in 2011 murdered Salman Taseer; the governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Qadri murdered Taseer because of the latter’s support for the reform of Pakistan’s strict Islamic blasphemy laws.
The offending booklet explains that “all Muslims should support” the assassin Qadri and that even being what the publication calls “a big shot” like Taseer should not protect someone from being killed by any Muslim who feels like it.
The police were then investigating the Dar-ul-Uloom Qadria Jilania mosque in Walthamstow, where the booklet was handed out, and the imam of the mosque, Syed Abdul Qadir Jilani, whose name and photograph are on the front of the booklet in question.
Of course, the response of the political class in Britain was to ignore any and all such things. One “Bad egg” or “one rotten apple” is probably the most the public will be able to expect from any politician, if one were forced to give any view at all on Mr Jilani, his pamphlet or his mosque.
Yet the public reads stories like this and rightly wonders where people like Mr Jilani get their ideas from and how widely such ideas might be spread.
The following day a Saturday, readers of The Sun were able to learn of a British celebrity gymnast, Louis Smith, who had got drunk with friends at a wedding and made a video that appeared to have come back to haunt him.
As the Sun headline read, “Has he got a screw Louis?” continuing, “Olympic ace Louis Smith accused of mocking Islam after yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ and pretending to pray in boozy video.”
The video of drunken japery included Smith and a friend pulling a rug off a wall and shouting “Allahu Akbar” while the friend pretended to pray in a vaguely Islamic style.
As the paper led the story; “Olympics star and former Strictly Come Dancing winner Louis Smith has been accused of mocking Islam after appearing in a video with a mate drunkenly pretending to pray. The footage shows him with fellow gymnast Luke Carson yelling ‘Allahu Akbar,’ an Islamic phrase meaning ‘God is great’.”
It was hardly the most important news story of the year, and hardly involved any of the most important figures of our time. But the story will have been read by millions of readers and they will have noticed the reactions.
First, that from a “security source” who is quoted; “Mocking religion is pretty foolish. In the case of Islam, it can also be quite a risky thing to do.”
And then the paper has the obligatory quote from a “moderate Muslim,” on this occasion one Mohammed Shafiq of a one-man organisation called the “Ramadan Foundation.” Mr Shafiq has previously been hailed in Britain for his apparently exceptional moral courage and bravery in coming out against the mass gang-rape of children.
In 2013, he stood accused of attempting to get up a lynch-mob when the reformist Muslim Maajid Nawaz tweeted out an innocuous image that Shafiq insisted was offensive to all the world’s Muslims.
Anyhow, responding to the Louis Smith drunken video, the same Mohammed Shafiq was quoted in the Sun saying of Smith: “I think he should apologise immediately. Our faith is not to be mocked, our faith is to be celebrated and I think people will be offended.”
Shafiq did not explain why his faith should not be mocked. Nor did he seem to know anything about the right of free people in free countries to do or say whatever we like about Islam or any other faith whenever we feel like it. There is nothing special about Islam that means it cannot be mocked.
In fact, it would be a very good thing (for both Muslims and everyone else) if it were mocked rather more.
But there in that sentence is the implicit threat again. Less blatant than the threat against Maajid Nawaz, but very close indeed to the line used by the Walthamstow imam and the extremists who defend Mumtaz Qadri.
All insist that their faith “should not be mocked.” And for those who say they are moderates, and are presented as such by the press, it seems to be exceptionally useful that they do not have to be much more explicit than this.
Fortunately for them, there are other people willing to do the killing in countries such as Pakistan and occasionally in the West. The rest of us; whether gymnasts on a night out or anyone else; are simply expected to have learnt this by now.
But in this not-so-subtle intimidation do we not see precisely that thing which most worries the public?
That despite what our politicians say, the allegedly vast chasm that separates the extremists from the “moderates” seems at times to be almost paper-thin.
On 10th October 2016; commuters on London’s Tubes and buses were taught “how to spot hate crime.”
The Police held a series of events to raise awareness after figures allegedly showed hate crime was an element in five per cent of all crimes reported on London’s transport network.
More than 50 events took place across London stations.
As part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, British Transport Police officers are also providing people with advice on what to do if they witness or fall victim to any kind of hate crime.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was quoted as saying; “We must stand together, and anyone who witnesses or experiences abusive behaviour should report it to the police immediately.”
Thus displaying the ignorance shared by many; that “abusive behaviour” on its own, is not enough to constitute a hate crime.
At last year’s Conservative party conference, Amber Rudd revealed a rather silly proposal that companies operating in the UK should be obliged to publish data on the number of foreign workers they employ. It was rightly condemned and Rudd later said that the information would not be published; only used by the government to identify areas of skills shortages among British workers.
But a ‘hate incident’?
In January, it was reported that that is exactly how, it transpires, the police recorded it. When you read now the headline that ‘hate incidents have soared,’ you may just want to reflect that one of them was a speech by the Home Secretary.
It turns out that Professor Joshua Silver, an Oxford physicist, was listening to the speech; and reported it to the police as a hate crime.
The police were obliged to investigate because that is what the law requires them to do.
While in an earlier age police might have sent Professor Silver away with a warning not to waste their time, they are now obliged to record every single ‘hate incident;’ defined by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service as; “Any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.”
Moreover, they are obliged to consider whether the incident constitutes a ‘hate crime,’ which is defined as; “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.”
In the case of Amber Rudd’s speech the police decided it was not a crime, but nevertheless will remain on file as a hate incident.
The irony is that Ms Rudd herself approved the government’s action plan on hate crime. She was hoist by her own petard.
The problem with the definition of hate crimes and hate incidents; and which the Home Secretary should have spotted before putting her signature to them; are the words ‘perceived’ and ‘thinks’.
Few would object to an action plan on hate crime if it were based on what a reasonable person would define as hate.
By broadening the definition to what any individual ‘feels’, the government has opened the door to people abusing the process for political ends or for their own personal battle.
Any of us, hearing anything we dislike, could report it to the police as a hate incident and that is exactly how it would be recorded.
This has made inevitable the ‘surge in hate crime’ that we keep hearing about. To take a few of the incidents recorded by Cambridgeshire police: neighbours were embroiled in a parking dispute when one handed the other a leaflet on Brexit; an eBay user returned an item he had bought when he realised the seller was not a British national; a lady of Pakistani heritage passed someone on the street and thought that she heard someone mutter ‘Brexit.’
None of that was exactly throwing someone down a well.
The parking case is a prime example of how the concept of ‘hate incidents’ is being used by people to involve the police in disputes in which they would otherwise not be interested.
Amber Rudd was not convicted of hate crime, but she, like many other innocent individuals, is now officially recorded as someone who caused a hate incident.
If she is not happy about that she should reform the definition to something which conforms to common sense.
Of course it was a Liberal Democrat MP; one Alistair Carmichael, who said Mrs Rudd’s comments and the subsequent police action were signs, “…of how much this Conservative Brexit Government has abandoned the centre-ground and embraced the politics of Nigel Farage. I do have concerns over whether the police should be investigating a politician’s speech, but Amber Rudd should certainly examine her own conscience over these grubby and divisive remarks.”
What is a “Hate Crime”?
A hate crime law is a law intended to deter bias-motivated violence.
For England, Wales, and Scotland, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 makes hateful behaviour towards a victim based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a racial group or a religious group an aggravation, to be considered when sentencing for certain ‘specified crimes.’
The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (c. 24) amended sections of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998; to add definitions:
“A “racial group” is a group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.
A “religious group” is a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.”
The ‘specified crimes’ for which “sentence uplift” may be considered, if they are deemed by a court to be motivated by “hate,” are assault; criminal damage; offences under the Public Order Act 1986 and offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
The Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires a court to consider whether a crime which is not ‘specified’ by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 is racially or religiously aggravated.
This Act requires a court also to consider whether the following circumstances were pertinent to the crime:
“(a) That, at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on:
(i) The sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) of the victim, or
(ii) A disability (or presumed disability) of the victim, or
(b) That the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) —
(i) By hostility towards persons who are of a particular sexual orientation, or
(ii) By hostility towards persons who have a disability or a particular disability”
What is “Hate Speech”?
Hate crime laws are distinct from laws against Hate speech in that, as above, Hate crime laws enhance the penalties associated with conduct that is already criminal under other laws.
Hate speech laws; on the other hand criminalise a category of speech.
Hate speech laws exist in many countries, but in the USA, they are in conflict with the first amendment right to freedom of speech, so have repeatedly been overturned as unconstitutional.
In England and Wales the Public Order Act 1986 prohibits, by its Part 3, expressions of racial hatred, which is defined as hatred against a group of persons by reason of the group’s colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins. Section 18 of the Act says:
“A person who uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, is guilty of an offence if:
(a) They intend thereby to stir up racial hatred, or
(b) Having regard to all the circumstances racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby.”
Offences under Part 3 carry a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment or a fine or both.
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 inserted Section 4A into the Public Order Act 1986. That part prohibits anyone from causing alarm or distress. Section 4A states:
“A person is guilty of an offence if, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress, he:
(a) Uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) Displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, thereby causing that or another person harassment, alarm or distress.”
A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to both.
The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 amended the Public Order Act 1986 by adding Part 3A.
That Part says, “A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred.”
However this Part seeks to protect freedom of expression by stating in Section 29J:
“Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which:
Prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents,
Or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.”
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 amended Part 3A of the Public Order Act 1986. The amended Part 3A adds, for England and Wales, the offence of inciting hatred on the ground of sexual orientation:
“All the offences in Part 3 attach to the following acts:
The use of words or behaviour or display of written material, publishing or distributing written material,
The public performance of a play, distributing, showing or playing a recording, broadcasting or including a programme in a programme service, and possession of inflammatory material
In the circumstances of hatred based on religious belief or on sexual orientation, the relevant act (namely, words, behaviour, written material, or recordings, or programme) must be threatening and not just abusive or insulting.”