15 May NPCC lead for Counter Terrorism calls for changes to proposed definition of Islamophobia
Indeed, I count myself amongst their number and I strongly believe that anyone who directs hatred or violence towards another human being – regardless of their motivation – deserves to be investigated.
But the definition of Islamophobia proposed by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims is simply too broad to be effective and it risks creating confusion, representing what some might see as legitimate criticism of the tenets of Islam – a religion – as a racist hate crime, which cannot be right for a liberal democracy in which free speech is also a core value.
Free speech cannot be an absolute right or freedom to harm, but as it stands this definition risks shutting down debate about any interpretation of the tenets of Islam which are at odds with our laws and customs, which in turn would place our police officers and members of the judicial system in an untenable position.
Despite the fact it would be non-legally binding, it would potentially allow those investigated by police and the security services for promoting extremism, hate and terrorism to legally challenge any investigation and potentially undermine many elements of counter terrorism powers and policies on the basis that they are ‘Islamophobic’. That cannot be allowed to happen.
While a representative of the NPCC Hate Crime Portfolio did give evidence to the APPG when invited to do so, the NPCC was not consulted on the wording of the definition and would have raised these concerns had we been.
I would be happy to consult on this now and to seek a definition that both satisfies all and absolutely protects those who are subjected to hate crime on the grounds of race and religion.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu
Head of Counter Terrorism Policing and NPCC lead for Counter Terrorism
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