March 13 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Communities in Camden have experienced a surge in hate speech over the last two years, with Holocaust denial and Islamophobia promoted by speakers in the borough.
It has prompted the creation of a cross-party taskforce at Camden Council to tackle the problem, spearheaded by Cllr Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s cabinet member for communities and culture.
Last night, the council’s cabinet approved the taskforce’s plans to eradicate hate speech in Camden.
Cllr Siddiq, who is standing as Labour parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn in the 2015 general election, said: “It is a fact that hate speech has risen in the last two years.
“In Camden, we are proud of the community we have - there are high levels of community cohesion. I don’t want people coming into our borough who express hate rhetoric and destroy the community cohesion that we are so proud of.”
Over the last two years, Cllr Siddiq said she has received increasing complaints about hate speakers operating in community centres and at events across Camden and has been shown video footage of several hate speakers in the borough.
The incidents reported to the council include speakers in Camden promoting anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, religious speakers promoting misogyny and groups advocating Islamophobia.
“Community centres came to the council and asked for help and that’s when we decided we need to take action,” said Cllr Siddiq.
“We have a public duty to protect our citizens. We have a duty to foster good relations between diverse groups.
“The question is, how do we best fulfil these legal obligations under the Equality Act bearing in mind that we need to protect freedom of speech?”
After months of consultation with various groups, including local faith communities, think-tanks, the Home Office, police and other London councils, Cllr Siddiq said the taskforce had come up with a framework for dealing with hate speakers.
She praised Tory councillor Andrew Marshall and Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Keith Moffitt for their work.
“From now on, if someone applies to speak in the borough, we will look at stuff they’ve said in the past and events they’ve spoken at,” said Cllr Siddiq.
“We will speak to police, the Home Office, we’ll look at the internet. We have been doing it previously but there’s been no formal structure on how it’s done.”