20 November 2015
Open Letter to Keith Vaz regarding blasphemy law for the UK
Dear Mr Vaz,
I write to express deep disappointment at your support for blasphemy laws to be re-introduced to the UK.
I write this as an open letter to encourage clarity on the matter.
It is outrageous that someone, as senior within the Labour party as yourself, would put forward the outdated, regressive, and oppressive concept that faith and belief need legal protection. They do not. These ideas must be subject to as rigorous questioning, criticism, ridicule and offensive comment, as any other idea.
Just because someone sincerely believes an idea does not give the person nor the idea any special privilege in being immune from normal human interaction, even if offensive criticism is offered. The line we draw, and it is a reasonable one, is that we do not permit the incitement of hatred nor violence. Everything else must remain within the law.
It is the duty of everyone to be prepared to take offence on the chin rather than demand special privilege to avoid facing unpleasant truths about their cherished beliefs. To give religious ideas special protection would be to give succour to the despicable regimes around the world who are happy to murder blasphemers. Take a look at Pakistan where even to allege that someone has blasphemed is enough to bring out the vigilante death squads. Why would you want to take our legal system in that direction or in the direction of Saudi Arabia where it is a terrorist offence to not believe in Allah?
I sincerely hope that you will reconsider your position and make it clear that a blasphemy law is not appropriate for this liberal democracy of ours.
Leicester Secular Society
75 Humberstone Gate