Ex-terror boss blasts Islamophobia bill as back door ‘blasphemy law’

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The PM was warned it could backfire and stifle criticism of hate preachers

THERESA May yesterday rejected a new definition of Islamophobia after warnings by top cops it could harm the fight against terrorism.

A group of MPs had demanded a new law to make hostility towards Islam a new form of racism.

 Former head of counter terrorism, Sir Mark Rowley said the bill would 'effectively create a blasphemy law by the back door'
Former head of counter terrorism, Sir Mark Rowley said the bill would ‘effectively create a blasphemy law by the back door’

Sir Mark Rowley, Britain’s former head of counter terrorism, warned it could backfire and stifle criticism of hate preachers such as Anjem Choudary and ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “You have here a poor definition that will effectively create a blasphemy law by the back door.

“If you look at issues around challenging extremism of wicked individuals like Anjem Choudary and al-Baghdadi of ISIS, people who use a warped interpretation of Islam to try to radicalise others they need challenging.”

He added: “Police are not thought police – this is a poor, vague definition.”

‘HARM FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM’

While Martin Hewitt, boss of the National Police Chiefs Council, wrote to the PM to warn it could harm the fight against terrorism.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said the definition put forward by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims was badly drafted.

But he promised to appoint two advisers to draw one up so Britain can tackle anti-Muslim hate.

He said: “I am deeply concerned at hatred which is directed against British Muslims and others because of their faith or heritage. This is utterly unacceptable and does not reflect the values of our country.

“To get a firmer grip on the nature of this bigotry and division we agree there needs to be a formal definition of Islamophobia to help strengthen our efforts.”

The announcement comes after Labour MPs furiously accused the Tories of ignoring anti-Muslim hate in a fiery Commons debate.

Labour MP Wes Streeting accused the Tories of making “the same mistakes” as Labour with anti-Semitism.

 Theresa May rejected the new definition of Islamophobia after warnings by top cops it could harm the fight against terrorism
Theresa May rejected the new definition of Islamophobia after warnings by top cops it could harm the fight against terrorism

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