The BBC has an article entitled Muslims’ free speech ‘threatened’ which contains details of a think tank report by the Centre for Social Cohesion.
The report claims that many within the Muslim community feel under threat of violence and intimidation if they question Islam, or even parts of their culture. And no doubt the report is right, but it is not just Muslims who are threatened with violence for daring to voice any criticism of Islam. Let us not forget the recent firebombing of a publisher in London or the Mohammed Cartoons controversy. All need protection from violence.
Our government however has introduced incitement to religious hatred legislation (toned down from the original after protests from comedians and writers) which clamps down on free speech. While any violence is still illegal, such legislation gives a veneer of justification to repressive acts, by implying that those on the recieving end of intimidation may be criminals. This government has no interest in free speech.
Combining that lack of respect for free speech, with the multi-cultural agenda which sees Muslims as a fixed block rather than individuals, it is no wonder this situation has arisen. Legislation has been enacted to protect the block ‘religion’ rather than all individuals, regardless of their beliefs.
I can believe that those who don’t toe the line of the most vocal and aggresive within their faith feel intimidated. But so do plenty of others. Free speech is an important right and should be protected.