ATTACK ON AFGHANISTAN: Freedom of Speech - New Move to Abolish the Law of Blasphemy

Article excerpt

A Labour MP is to take up his father's Bill to abolish the law of blasphemy amid growing unease about the Government's plans to make incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence for the first time.

John Cryer, the Labour MP for Hornchurch, told The Independent on Sunday he intends to take up the Bill his father - the former MP for Bradford - introduced in Parliament in 1990.

Bob Cryer attempted to abolish the blasphemy laws after the controversy over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses but failed through lack of Parliamentary time.

Demands for a fresh attempt to repeal the three-centuries-old blasphemy laws have been sparked by the controversy surrounding the emergency package of counter terrorism laws proposed last week by David Blunkett.

The Home Secretary said he was holding in reserve the possibility of introducing internment "if a major crisis arose from the terrorist threat". He confirmed he would be making incitement to racial hatred an offence, as first disclosed in an interview for the IoS.

Mr Blunkett told MPs: "Racists, bigots and hotheads, and those associating with terrorists, are prepared to use the opportunity to stir up hate. …