Delivered on: 7 February 2013
Published: 7 February 2013
Policy: Promoting human rights internationally
Minister: The Rt Hon Baroness Warsi
Speaking at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Summit in Cairo Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said: ...
... Freedom of Religion or BeliefFull text at GOV.UK
We have heard today about many important issues. But I want to focus on one. One which threads into so much of what we have discussed. One which is in itself a challenge, but that if we get right, will unlock solutions to so many other challenges we face.
That issue is Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Now, I know that the OIC has for many years been concerned about the scourge of Islamophobia, or anti-Muslim hatred, and other hate speech.
As a practising British Muslim, as a proud member of a minority faith in a majority Christian nation, and as a Government Minister, I am also deeply concerned about this issue. But concern alone will not bridge divides.
The question is, how do we address this scourge? How do we defeat it?
I believe that the answer is to tackle religious intolerance head-on where and when it occurs, and to protect the rights of all in society.
In the UK we have sought to do exactly that. We legislate against incitement to hatred on the basis of religion or belief, be it behaviour that is anti-Muslim or intolerant of any other religion or belief. But legislation is not the only answer. While incitement to religious hatred remains an offence in Britain, a blasphemy law once on our statute book was abolished in 2008 – in part because we felt it was incompatible with the freedom of speech.
To truly achieve societies that are founded on tolerance and acceptance, on love and understanding, we need more than just legislation. We need to nurture these values, to engrain them into the way we look at the world.
There are no short-cuts here. It requires patience and time, sometimes a generation or two.
So in the UK we are seeking to combat negative media stereotypes…
To develop resources for teachers…To support victims……and to improve hate crime reporting. ...