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Outlawing incitement to religious hatred—a British perspective

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image of Religion & Human Rights

The recent enactment of the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 makes it (for the first time) unlawful to incite hatred on religious grounds in England and Wales. This legislation has however been attacked by a number of Muslims on the basis that it is too rigidly drawn, and that the scope of the offence of incitement to religious hatred is narrower than comparable legislation governing incitement to racial hatred. In critically analysing the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, this article makes particular reference to the recent Islamic Council of Victoria case in Australia on religious vili cation and hate speech which, it is suggested, provides a salutary lesson to those who would seek to expand the remit of the Act. It is argued that the Racial and Religious Hatred Act is not merely a symbolically important measure, but is also a fair and workable compromise which protects faith groups from incitement to religious hatred without placing excessive curbs on free speech.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Law in the University of Leicester


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