Tuesday, 16 November 2010


It is disturbing to read that Walid Hussein, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Qalqilya, risks being jailed for life for “insulting the divine essence.”

The so-called 'atheist blogger' has no doubt been intemperate in his words, but freedom of belief is a principle that must apply to those who do not believe in a God just as much as to those who hold the superstitious notion that there exists a divine entity of some kind.

Of course, the arrest of Walid Hussein is a boon to every Israeli who professes to liberal values and who claims moral superiority over Palestinians. I concede the point. As someone who speaks out against the injustice experienced by Palestinians, but who cherishes liberal values, I personally feel let down.

I've just tabled a parliamentary question to the European Commission which challenges the payment of EU money to a body - the Palestinian Authority - that in this instance appears not to respect freedom of beliefs.

But just a thought, given the laws against blasphemy that exist in some EU countries, I wonder if we could pass the test ourselves?

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