Why can’t the BNP be prosecuted for distributing hate literature against Muslims?

The Nottingham-based Building For The Future blog has drawn its readers’ attention to this leaflet, which has been distributed by the British National Party in Luton.

As the BFTF writer notes, the flyer “appeared to have come straight out of 1930s Germany (and BFTF does not use that analogy lightly) – with the exception that instead of hate caricatures of Jews, it was Muslims that the BNP were now choosing to portray as the evil menace in our midst”.

The writer wants to know whether “this qualifies as an inciteful document and should not be allowed” and has “asked the local council and MP what (if anything) would happen if the BNP started distributing flyers like this in Nottingham”.

The answer is – probably very little. In August this year a former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate named Linda Jack (who is currently standing for her party in the Bedfordshire police commissioner election) called for the BNP to be prosecuted for distributing the leaflet in Luton but got nowhere.

If the leaflet were directed against Jews rather than Muslims there would be a realistic prospect of the BNP being charged with inciting racial hatred. But Muslims are not covered by racial hatred legislation and have to rely on the religious hatred law, which is completely useless. On the one occasion that a BNP member has been prosecuted for inciting religious hatred he was inevitably acquitted.

There is an urgent need to amend the law against incitement to religious hatred so that it does provide effective protection for the Muslim community. However, even in the current situation there is no excuse for the police refusing to take action over leaflets like this. There would appear to be good grounds for Muslims who have received the flyer to demand that the BNP should be prosecuted for religiously aggravated harassment.