Sir: For once the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, should be commended for resisting European pressure to make "denial" of the Holocaust illegal ("Howard opposed racism law 'to protect Rushdie' ", 25 November). To criminalise those suffering historical amnesia would set a precedent and lead to stifling public debate and an attack on free speech.
While most Christian leaders maintain silence, many deny that the barbaric transatlantic slave-trade was financed by Christian and Jewish merchants with more than just tacit approval of the Church and Rabbis. Should those with selective memory who deny or distort the facts about the slave trade be also criminalised? Should only those suffering from historical amnesia be prosecuted for denying the Holocaust in which millions of Jews and gypsies were killed?
Denial of well-documented acts of barbarism, being selective with facts, taking a myopic view or distorting facts are not for the criminal courts but, in a democracy, as history for open discussion, analysis and debate. However, incitement to violence or hatred on grounds of colour, religion, race, national or ethnic origin should all be considered criminal acts as they affect social order and harmony.
26 NovemberReuse content