Churchman ‘guilty’ under Aussie hate speech law for criticising Islam visits UK
Available for media interviews Monday 7 Feb – Saturday 12 Feb
On Monday 7 February the House of Commons is scheduled to debate Government proposals to create an ‘incitement to religious hatred’ offence. The proposals are expected to run into considerable difficulties in the House of Lords. A church leader who has been unfairly convicted under a similar law in Australia is visiting the UK to urge the Government not to introduce such laws here.
In December last year, Daniel Scot was found guilty of breaking the state of Victoria’s ‘religious vilification’ laws after he held a church seminar on Islam. During the seminar Daniel Scot explained how Islam’s holy books, the Quran and the Hadith (sayings of Mohammed) came to be written, what they teach about jihad, women and other matters. He also believes that Muslim Fundamentalism is incompatible with democracy. Daniel Scot, a former Maths lecturer at the University of Queensland, is originally from Pakistan and has specialist knowledge of Islam. His criticisms of Islam were calm, reasonable and based on his considerable knowledge of that religion.
Daniel Scot fled Pakistan in fear of his life after he resisted pressure to become a Muslim from the university where he worked. He faced a death sentence under Pakistan’s blasphemy law.
The Christian Institute believes Daniel Scot’s story illustrates the problems with the UK Government’s plans to create an ‘incitement to religious hatred’ offence. Free speech will be damaged and the law will generate an incentive for minority religious groups to litigate against anyone who criticises them.
Commenting on the Daniel Scot case Neil Addison (Barrister and leading Harassment Law expert), said: “The suggestion is being made by the Government that what happened in Australia is not relevant to the proposed Religious Hatred law because the English legislation will be different. They are right but only because the Government’s proposals are worse than the Victoria legislation. The Victoria law at least provides some legal defences but there are no defences in the proposed British law. I have no doubt that the seminar given by Pastor Danny could have been prosecuted in Britain had the law been in place. The irony is that both in Victoria and in Britain these laws are proposed in order to catch ‘racist extremists’, and yet the first person to be taken to court is an Asian Pakistani Christian who would not be eligible to join the BNP! Surely that should make supporters of the Government’s proposals have second thoughts about the wisdom of going down this road.”
Daniel Scot will be in the UK for one week meeting groups of politicians, lawyers and Christians. He will be accompanied by Roslyn Phillips of the Australian Festival of Light – a Christian group that has supported Daniel Scot throughout his case. Both Daniel Scot and Roslyn Phillips will be available for media interviews from Monday 7 February until Saturday 12 February.
Note for editors
The Christian Institute is a non-denominational registed charity that promotes the Christian faith throughout the UK. It has been established for nearly 15 years and is supported by over 14,000 churches and individuals throughout the UK.