Criminal acts of revenge against local Muslims have prompted
the British government to debate a toughening of their hate
crime laws. Present law provides penalties for racial or
religiously motivated destruction of life or property.
Home Secretary David Blunkett has proposed that the law be
broadened to include "incitement" to hatred. Blunkett said
that he was reacting to requests from the British Muslim community.
Opponents point out that any move in that direction requires a legal
definition of religion and jeopardizes freedom of speech. Some
Muslims even objected to the proposal recognizing that their
ability to propagate their religion might be curtailed.
A recent furor over a Muslim guest on a British talk show
illustrates the hazard. Show host Jimmy Young interviewed Muslim
Abdul Haq, head of an organization that is sending British Muslims
to Afghanistan to fight on the side of the Taliban.
Haq stated, "We will continue to struggle and strive
until we see the flag of Islam flying over 10 Downing Street."
He also declared that the aim of his organization was a world
A storm of protest from listeners has caused Scotland
Yard to launch an investigation into whether any existing incitement
laws had been broken.
For soul winners, also, this is threatening, since it sometimes
becomes necessary to point out the errors of other religions such
as Islam, Roman Catholicism or Mormons. Critics of Chick tracts
have for years, tried to label the soul winning booklets as
So far, America's freedoms of speech and religion
hold firm. But we must pray that the confusion over responding
to terrorism does not cause unnecessary restriction on our
ability to get the gospel out.