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Incitement to Religious Hatred -

Press Release from Barnabas Fund
01 February 2005

"Barnabas Fund has today (1 February) issued a briefing pack for all MPs warning of the dangers to free speech posed by proposed new laws banning incitement to religious hatred.

MPs are due to debate the proposal next Monday 7 February when the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill goes through Report Stage and receives its Third Reading in the House of Commons before entering the House of Lords.

Schedule 10 of the Bill proposes extending laws which already ban incitement to racial hatred to cover religious hatred as well. The government argues that the law is needed to prevent far-right groups and extremists of all religions whipping up hatred against the followers of other faiths.

However, a broad based coalition of journalists, senior lawyers, MPs, peers, human rights groups, civil liberties organizations, religious organisations, secularists and actors, amongst others, co-ordinated by Barnabas Fund fear that far from achieving this laudable aim the law will instead effectively end up banning all legitimate criticism of religion and religious practices."

Further details:

Briefing Paper

Summary of Concerns

Joint Statement

END.

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