Saturday, November 11, 2006

Griffin not guilty, cartoon protester guilty

While Nick Griffin was swaggering free from court yesterday, another jury was convicting an islamic thug of the same offence with which Griffin had been charged. Mizanur Rahman was one of the protesters against the Danish cartoons. The jury found him guilty of incitement to racial hatred, but could not agree on a charge of incitement to murder.

So why was Griffin acquitted and Rahman convicted? Well, for starters, Rahman was not in a private place speaking to like-minded people. He was standing outside the Danish embassy in London, in full view of the passers-by and television cameras openly filming. While one could argue in the case of Griffin that as he was speaking to BNP sympathisers, he was not 'stirring up' any hatred that wasn't already astir, in Rahman's case, his message was to all and sundry.

And what was he saying? Unlike Griffin who restricted himself to offensive insults, Rahman was openly enjoining people to kill. He was carrying placards saying "Annihilate those who insult Islam" and "Behead those who insult Islam". (He also addressed the crowd, saying that he wanted to see British and American troops return home in body bags. I wouldn't class this as 'incitement to murder', but that is a subject for another post.)

I still have a problem with the 'racial hatred' aspect. Islam is not a race. Just as I did not think that Nick Griffin should have been charged with a race hate crime for insulting islam, I do not think Rahman should have been charged with the same crime for his comments about non-muslims. The placards he carried were a clear incitement to murder, and it is right that that charge was laid. As the jury failed to reach a verdict on that, I hope there will be a retrial.
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