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Yorkshire Times
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2:00 AM 1st March 2023
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Blasphemy Laws Have No Place In A Free Society

 
Copy of the Koran - Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash
Copy of the Koran - Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash
Commenting on the decision by Kettlethorpe High School in Wakefield to suspend four pupils for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran, Marc Glendening, Head of Cultural Affairs at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:
"Suspending pupils for ‘showing disrespect’ by dropping a book is not compatible with the right to free speech.

"The decision to suspend the pupils and the government’s inaction in preventing it demonstrates that blasphemy laws have effectively returned. Extraordinarily, the local police even recorded the matter as a ‘hate incident’.

"Britain’s Blasphemy and Blasphemous Libel laws were abolished in England and Wales in 2008 and in Scotland in 2021. In a free society no religion should be exempt from attack and ridicule."

Marc has written to chief inspector Andy Thornton, the officer who addressed a public meeting at Jamia Masjid Swafia Mosque in Wakefield, to ask three questions:

1. Does the West Yorkshire Constabulary intend to investigate the making of death threats to the child who dropped the copy of the Koran and if not, why not?

2. Given that the children involved in this incident have been publicly accused by Chief Inspector Thornton of having been involved in a ‘hate incident’, does he now intend to place them on his force’s Non Crime Hate Incident database?

3. Why did Chief Inspector Thornton choose to address a meeting at the mosque last Friday? This was arguably a highly political act. Had a child at the same school dropped a copy of a Christian Bible, would the same police officer have felt it appropriate to present himself at a highly charged meeting in a church attended by people claiming that their religion had been disrespected?