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Religious Freedom Practices

United Kingdom Religious Freedom Practices in 2016

The Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee’s report also expressed concern at the volume and viciousness of anti-Semitism online, including countless examples directed at parliamentarians. The committee recommended government and political parties adopt an amended definition of anti-Semitism aimed at promoting a zero-tolerance approach while allowing free speech on Israeli and Palestinian issues to continue. The report criticized President of the National Union of Students Malia Bouattia for failing to take seriously the issue of anti-Semitism on university campuses. The report further noted recent surveys showed as many as one in 20 adults in the country could be characterized as “clearly anti-Semitic.” The report also noted a “worrying disparity in police-recorded anti-Semitic crime across the country, with virtually no cases recorded in some police force areas where thousands of Jewish people live.” The committee called on the National Police Chiefs’ Council to investigate what it considered under-reporting, and to provide more support to police forces to correct the disparity.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

In October Baroness Jenny Tonge resigned from the Liberal Democrats Party following the party’s decision to suspend her after she chaired a parliamentary event for the Palestinian Return Center, at which one speaker compared Israel to ISIS, while another blamed Jews for the Holocaust. The Palestinian Return Center said the event inside parliament was part of its Balfour apology campaign – which called for the UK government to “officially apologize for its past colonial crimes in Palestine.”

Other Developments in 2016

In April police forces in England and Wales began recording anti-Muslim hate crimes as a separate category of crime, as it did with anti-Semitic incidents.

Some Details

Following the Brexit referendum on June 23, Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the “despicable” rise of hate crime incidents throughout the country. Cameron said “we have a fundamental responsibility to bring our country together” after the vote and these hate crimes and attacks must be stamped out.

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In January Trevor Phillips, the former head of the UK’s equality commission, stated Muslims were unlike their non-Muslim neighbors and suggested the country might have to accept they may never integrate into British society, and accused those who promoted the idea that Muslims will eventually change and become more like other Britons of exhibiting the “deepest form of disrespect.” Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017

United Kingdom Religious Freedom Practices in 2016

On January 23, political party Britain First recorded and released on social media a video of approximately 20 party members on what they called “a Christian patrol,” walking through what they labelled as an “Islamist hotspot” in Luton. In the video, they handed out newspapers and confronted local Muslims in what Tell MAMA, an NGO countering anti-Muslim hate and bigotry, said was an “intimidating” fashion aimed at “inflaming” tensions. The next day, local Christian leaders handed out roses to Muslims in Luton and denounced the party’s actions. Then-Britain First leader Paul Golding was fined for “wearing a uniform with political objectives.” In May Britain First announced it was to launch a “direct action campaign against Muslim elected officials” targeting “where they live, work, pray.” In the press release, the party stated Muslim politicians were “occupiers” intending to take over the country.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

In response to the January confrontation between Britain First and the Muslim community in Luton, Bedfordshire Police applied for an injunction aiming to ban Britain First from every mosque in England and Wales, and which was granted in August. The party’s leaders and supporters were also banned from the town of Luton for “causing community tensions.” Nine days later, Britain First leader Paul Golding and four other party members confronted Muslims outside of a mosque in Cardiff. In November Golding stepped down from his position and was sentenced to eight weeks in jail for actions breaching the injunction.

Other Developments in 2016

During the year the Labour Party faced criticism for its members’ anti-Semitic acts and comments. In March the party suspended the membership of Vice-chairman Vicki Kirby in Woking, Surry, for anti-Semitic tweets suggesting Adolf Hitler was a “Zionist God” and that Jews had “big noses.” Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Naz Shah was temporarily suspended in April from the party for comments made on her Facebook page before she became a MP in 2015. Under an outline of Israel which was superimposed on a map of the United States with the headline “Solution for Israel-Palestine conflict – relocate Israel into United States,” Shah commented “Problem solved.” In parliament, Shah “wholeheartedly” apologized for her actions and said she “deeply regretted them.” She wrote separately to the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, “The manner and tone of what I wrote in haste is not excusable. With the understanding of the issues I have now I would never have posted them. I have to own up to the fact that ignorance is not a defence.”

Some Details

In April former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party after saying in a radio interview that Hitler supported Zionism. He said, “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.” Livingstone refused to apologize and insisted he was right to say Hitler had, at one point, supported Zionism as a way of “getting rid” of Jewish people from Germany.

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Labour Party member Jackie Walker was removed from her post as vice-chairman of campaigning group Momentum on October 3, following remarks in which she criticized Holocaust Memorial Day and counterterrorism security at Jewish schools, although Momentum stated she had not said anything anti-Semitic. Walker was previously suspended from the Labour Party and readmitted in May after saying Jews were the “chief financiers” of the African slave trade. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017

United Kingdom Religious Freedom Practices in 2016

On May 7, the Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan became London’s first Muslim mayor, defeating his Conservative opponent, who – according to media – attempted to link Khan to religious extremism. “This election was not without controversy and I am so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division,” Khan stated in a speech following the election results.

This issue of Religious Freedom in United Kingdom

In March Britain’s then-Interior Minister Teresa May confirmed government funding of 13 million pounds ($16 million) for the protection of the Jewish community during the following year. The funding would be put to such uses as providing guards at Jewish schools, synagogues, and other community sites. The government cited the increase in anti-Semitism in the country and in Europe as one factor in its decision to increase funding for the security of Jewish schools and synagogues.

Other Developments in 2016

The government is a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Source: 2016 Report on International Religious Freedom, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, 2017



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  • Article Name: Religious Freedom Practices
  • Author: Theo Walker
  • Description: United Kingdom Religious Freedom Practices in 2016 The Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee’s report also expressed [...]

This entry was last updated: August 4, 2020

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