Footage, livestreamed by the mosque on Friday, seems to indicate the centre’s imam, Shakeel Begg, delivering a sermon on ‘Our duty in direction of Gaza and Palestine’.

Within the video, Begg seems to accuse the Israel Defence Forces of committing ‘terror’, and to name for Muslim international locations to ‘intervene’ within the Israel-Hamas battle. He additionally seems to denounce singer Justin Bieber and actuality star Kylie Jenner as ‘sick’ for expressing solidarity with Israel following Hamas’s brutal pogrom on 7 October.

Clearly, there’s a reputable information story right here. Not least because the Lewisham Mosque obtained £540,000 of taxpayers’ cash between 2015 and 2020. What’s extra, Begg has earlier. In 2018, he misplaced a libel motion in opposition to the BBC, after it referred to him as an ‘extremist’. A decide dominated that he ‘clearly promotes and encourages violence in help of Islam and espouses a sequence of extremist Islamic positions’.

But, based on Lewisham Mosque, to ask probing questions on any of that is supposedly Islamophobic. When Peters emailed the mosque, a spokesperson responded by accusing him of racism and posted their alternate on X (previously Twitter). Peters then hit back to say that he was ‘not intimidated’ by this smear, including ‘Tick tock’, to recommend the mosque ought to hurry up in responding correctly to his questions.

The phrases ‘tick tock’ have been then seized on by Lewisham Mosque, which accused him of creating a risk, because the phrase might be ‘related to a bomb’. ‘Now we have subsequently now reported this as a hate crime and await additional communications from the police’, it introduced in a press launch right now.

Now, there isn’t any indication from the police that they’re planning to take any motion in response to the criticism, not to mention criminalise Peters for his journalism. However, Lewisham Mosque’s choice to report Peters to the police represents a transparent try to sit back his investigation and to protect Begg and the centre from journalistic inquiry. It reveals how our hate-crime legal guidelines are being weaponised to silence reputable criticism and shut down debate.

Legal guidelines in opposition to so-called hate speech are a menace to press freedom.

Fraser Myers is deputy editor at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Comply with him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

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