National Secular Society protests decision to suspend Louis Smith after he mocked Islam
The National Secular Society has written an open letter to British Gymnastics calling on the body to reverse the two
month suspension given to athlete Louis Smith for mocking Islam.
The sporting body suspended Smith for two months and gave fellow athlete Luke Carson a reprimand over a video in which the two mocked Islamic prayer.
President of the National Secular Society Terry Sanderson wrote to British Gymnastics that's its own censorious actions had caused far more harm than Smith and Carson's mockery of Islam.
In an open letter Mr Sanderson said that:
British Gymnastics has contributed to a climate of censorship brought on by the unreasonable and reactionary views of religious extremists.
Rather than defending free expression, one of the most precious pillars of our liberal democratic society, you have chosen instead to side with extremists and patronise British Muslims by assuming they will take offence at the trivial actions of these
British Gymnastics' condemnation and punishment of Louis Smith and Luke Carson will only serve to embolden the religious extremists who reject free speech and religious tolerance by demanding that Islam must not be mocked.
We urge you to consider whether by taking the actions it has, British Gymnastics has further endangered the safety of these two athletes by giving succour to those who seek to silence all criticism and mockery of their religion.
British Gymnastics' Standards of Conduct prohibits athletes from making offensive jokes or remarks. The National Secular Society has now called on British Gymnastics to revise its code of conduct to protect athletes' freedom of expression.
Offsite Comment: Je suis Louis Smith
Why we must be free to mock Islam. By Brendan O'Neill
3rd November 2016. See article from blogs.spectator.co.uk
Update: Parliamentary Questions
4th November 2016. See article from freethinker.co.uk
Yesterday in parliament Tory MP Charles Walker was speaking about the chilling vilification of Louis Smith and accused politicians of having looked the other way
over death threats to Smith.
During Prime Minister's Questions, he told MPs:
When people make fun of Christianity in this country, it rightly turns the other cheek.
When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, makes fun of another religion widely practised in this country, he is hounded on Twitter by the media and suspended by his association.
For goodness sake, this man received death threats and we have all looked the other way.
My question to the Prime Minister is this: what is going on in this country because I no longer understand the rules
In response, Theresa May seemed to affirm that freedom of speech has been repealed and that the criticism of islam is now officially considered off limits. She said:
I understand the level of concern that you have raised in relation to this matter. This is a balance that we need to find.
We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country -- that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy ... BUT ... we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions.
This is one of the issues that we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government has produced.
I think we need to ensure that yes it is right that people can have that freedom of expression. ..BUT... in doing so that right has a responsibility too.
And that is a responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance to others.
Offsite Comment: British Gymnastics needs to get off its high horse
4th November 2016. See article from theguardian.com
. By Marina Hyde
Offsite Comment: Islam is trying to make itself untouchable
4th November 2016. See article from talkradio.co.uk