Interesting news from Britain, where Blair's religious hatred bill met with strong opposition. The bill was to criminalise criticism of ideas. The protected ideas would be those ideas which can be claimed to be religious ideas. The proposed bill was watered down by amendments which protect the right to criticise or ridicule religious ideas. The bill still gives religious communities special rights to protection from expressions of intended violence and hatred. As such it is discriminatory of those who are non-religious and whose thoughts are not protected by belonging to the heritage of a traditional organised religion.
The reason why Blair promoted the bill was to curry favour with and get the votes of Muslims.
The ethnic communities of Jews and Sikhs already recieve special protection. The bill would give similar rights to Christians and Muslims, although Christians did not ask for such favours.
Under the original version of the bill the British government would have been able to punish a newspaper or other medium that would publish cartoons of Mohammed. As happened in Denmark with the Jylland Posten cartoons, which is causing ripples of hatred and anger in the Islamic world and Muslim communities in the West.
Saudi Arabian Arab News wrote:
"Were Prime Minister Rasmussen to follow Blair’s lead and introduce a similar law in Denmark, Muslim anger would vanish, not least because the UK bill, although protecting all religions from attack, is in fact designed specifically with Islam in mind. Rasmussen has to think about Denmark’s political and economic interests. But he needs to realize what Tony Blair has realized — that Muslims are now an integral part of his country and that to attack their faith is to attack them."
Obviously Arab News regards the presence of Muslim minorities in Western Societies as irreconcilable with Freedom of Speech.