Now, some might say that possessing terrorist propaganda and joining an organisation, Jihad Way, which aimed to disseminate such propaganda and to support al-Qaeda goes some way beyond mere "thought crime". Personally, I would definitely say that organisations such as Jihad Way ought to be illegal, although I don't really think that she should be punished for her (admittedly appalling) poetry, or for downloading offensive material from the internet. In any event, I fail to see why Samina Malik should be prosecuted, while the likes of Anjem Choudhary are left free to incite murder in peace. So, to some extent I do actually agree with Inayat Bunglawala, and I am certainly glad to see that he is taking a stance against thought crime, an issue which greatly concerns me, and about which I have written on numerous occasions.
But hang on a minute! This Inayat Bunglawala, this champion of free speech, this enemy of the criminalisation of thoughts, surely he cannot be the same Inayat Bunglawala who, in 2005, wrote in favour of the introduction of laws creating a new crime of "incitement to religious hatred"? He must be a different Bunglawala from the one who then said that:
We believe stirring up hatred against people simply because of their religious beliefs or lack of them should be regarded as a social evil...We understand the concerns about free speech, but we think that they are totally misplaced.And he can't possibly be the same Bunglawala who last year supported plans to widen the scope of the laws against "inciting racial hatred", following the acquittals of Nick Griffin and Mark Collett. No, because anyone who felt that Nick Griffin should go to prison for saying that Islam was a "wicked, vicious faith" (which statement, I would point out, does not contain any explicit or implicit threat, nor any reference to individual Muslims), but that punishing Samina Malik for writing such delightful couplets as "Kafirs your time will come soon/and no one will save you from your doom" and "For the living martyrs are awakening/and Kuffars world soon to be shaking" is "an attack on liberty", would be a complete hypocrite.
Postscript: To be fair to Bunglawala, he's not the only person displaying a distinct hypocrisy over this. Following Malik's conviction, Martin Sullivan, of the Islamophobia Watch blog, quoted approvingly from both Bunglawala's article, and Boyd Tonkin's rather better written piece on the same theme. Yet in the past he too has repeatedly come out in favour of restricting the free speech of people like the BNP.