Who could be caught by EDOs?

The Government has made it perfectly clear that the legislation will go far beyond tackling violent extremism. This means it would apply to those who simply hold unpopular or traditional views.

One can imagine already the powers being used against harmless evangelical street preachers or the like, out of misplaced zeal and a desire to demonstrate that they are not directed against one religion alone.

Jonathan Evans

Former Head of MI5

Just consider for a moment what it means to be hauled up in front of a policeman, questioned as a criminal, or even arrested and dragged to court for speaking your mind.

A Poke in the Private Eye

Satirical magazine Private Eye has for many years poked fun at the political establishment. Last Christmas this British institution carried a picture satirising traditional Christmas card depictions of the birth of Jesus Christ, under the heading “Season of Goodwill”. To some the provocative image seemed deliberately chosen to offend Christians.

Dawkins Dilemma

The always outspoken and often controversial biologist used Twitter to suggest it would be “immoral” not to abort a baby if you knew it had Down’s Syndrome. Understandably the comments led to a furious reaction – especially from parents of children with the condition. Were the remarks unpleasant? Yes. Were they thoughtless, even callous? Definitely. But should they mean Professor Dawkins is slapped with an EDO…?

Green Extreme

Green Party Peer and London Assembly member Jenny Jones discovered last year that she had been recorded as a “domestic extremist” by the Metropolitan Police. Baroness Jones said: “They are using a label of ‘domestic extremist’ for people who are publicly elected, have never been arrested and have no criminal background.” Sounds like just the kind of people the Government has in mind for EDOs.

Je Suis Charlie

An illustrator who drew a cartoon of Mohammed for a satirical magazine would meet the criteria for an EDO. So would the publishers, printers, delivery drivers and sellers of the magazine.

The Rudest Man on TV

Frankie Boyle, dubbed ‘the rudest man on TV’, has poked fun at the disabled and made offensive remarks about the Queen. His comments are frequently offensive and many don’t find him at all funny – he could meet all the criteria for an EDO.

Fracking Up

A police officer used Green MP Caroline Lucas as an example of an “extremist” while he was training more than 100 teachers on the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy. No cause seems out of reach for these dangerous proposals.

Sign Language

A few years ago a 16-year-old schoolboy was arrested for peacefully holding a placard that read: “Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult.” Under the Government’s plans this action could be considered to be extreme and spreading hate against a particular group or religion.

Tough Talk from Tatchell

Peter Tatchell and members of the LGBT group Outrage! have previously been arrested and charged for shouting slogans and displaying placards that condemned the persecution of LGBT people by Islamic governments. They were campaigning against a rally led by the fundamentalist Muslim group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. Mr Tatchell’s actions and those of his fellow campaigners could be seen as spreading hatred of a particular group and they could find themselves subject to an EDO.

Turn the Other Cheek

There are numerous cases of Christian street preachers quoting the Bible when answering questions about other religions and sexual ethics. Under the Government’s loose definition, a preacher could find himself hauled in front of the courts and given an EDO if someone calls the police on them.

Yid Army

Spurs fans face prosecution for chanting “We are the Yid army”. Even though the Spurs fans are calling themselves Yids, a reference to a long and proud association with London’s Jewish community, PC Steve Payne, Football Intelligence Officer for the Met, confirmed fans would still be arrested if a complaint was made against them.

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