Conservative religious believers, including Christians, should not be ‘condemned’ for practising their faith, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism police officer has said.
Neil Basu said a “socially inclusive society” should accept people who practise their faith openly.
Basu, who as an Assistant Commissioner is responsible for the strategic direction of the Metropolitan Police, made the comments in an interview with the Guardian.
He said: “You should be able to practise your religion without suffering some condemnation of that; so my view is, do no harm.
“And that does not matter whether you are conservative Islamic, conservative Christian, conservative Hindu, conservative Sikh.
“You should be able to practise your culture or religion openly and still be accepting of others, and others be accepting of you.
“That is a socially inclusive society.”
Basu defended the intention of the controversial Prevent strategy, but did acknowledge it needed “better communication” and “more transparency”.
Prevent is part of the Government’s wider counter-terrorism strategy, aimed at stopping people being radicalised.
Since 2011 it has been more focused on ‘non-violent extremism’.
In 2015, a Christian Institute-backed campaign won an important victory when the Government dropped a key section of Prevent guidance which threatened the free speech of university Christian Unions.
Draft guidance had said that university societies in Britain would be forced to hand over external speakers’ talks two weeks in advance for vetting.
But the Government introduced an amendment which requires universities to give “particular regard” to freedom of speech when fulfilling their duty under Prevent.