Responding to 'My right to offend a fool', by Tariq Hameed
13th June 2005
Polly Toynbee's offensive against the forthcoming legislation to outlaw incitement to religious hatred ("My right to offend a fool", 10 June 2005) clearly shows that she has not read the draft legislation.
Toynbee makes the erroneous claim that the legislation would have prevented the performance of the play Behzti. However, as Toynbee notes, Sikh and Jewish communities are already protected by race laws, and yet the play was still performed. The only change anticipated by the proposed legislation is the extension of the protection afforded by race laws to specific faith communities to other faith communities including those of no faith.
Toynbee further shows her haste for bombast over rationale by failing to appreciate that criticism of faiths per se will remain unimpeded by the new law. She would therefore be free to continue her diatribe against religion.
Hatred of another is a most distasteful state of being, and yet to defend the "right" to hate others on the grounds of their religion recalls some of the most distasteful episodes of our recent history.
Muslim Council of Britain