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On Hate Speech

Is there such a thing as hate speech and, if so, should limits be placed on freedom of _expression?

The British Government recently suffered a setback in its attempt to introduce legislation designed to tighten a loophole in laws that currently protect against discrimination and abuse directed at racial minorities, including Sikhs and Jews, but not Muslims. A high-profile public campaign featuring comedian Rowan Atkinson and others was waged against the bill, which was narrowly defeated by a combination of backbench revolt, miscalculation by the Government and concerns that the laws might make legitimate criticism of faith, including much satire, illegal.

The global conflict caused by the recent publication and reprinting of Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad has highlighted the importance and delicacy of the same subject: what exactly does freedom of speech mean? Is there such a thing as hate speech and, if so, should limits be placed on freedom of _expression? In a pluralistic and democratic society, how can we handle the potentially inflammable relationship between respect for the sacred, strongly held religious beliefs, and free speech?

Professor Parekh, one of the world's foremost authorities on the subject, will address these and related questions. He is a Professor of Political Philosophy at CSD at the University of Westminster, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Academy of the Learned Societies for Social Sciences. He was chair of the Runnymede Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (1998-2000), whose report, The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, was published in 2000.


Lord Bikhu Parekh | talks


Date and Time:

7 March 2006 at 6:00 pm


2 hours 30 minutes



Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster
32-38 Wells Street
+44 20 79 11 51 38

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Refreshments will be provided. All are welcome! For more details visit: www.johnkeane.net/dc/dc.htm

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