Blasphemy Laws by the Back Door

To describe public burnings of the Koran as uncivil behavior is an understatement, but this piece of news doesn’t say much for the state of free speech in Britain:

Six people have been arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after videos emerged on the internet apparently showing copies of the Koran being burned.

Officers detained two men on September 15 and four more yesterday and all six were bailed pending further inquiries, Northumbria Police said. ‘’The arrests followed the burning of what are believed to have been two Korans in Gateshead on September 11,’’ the spokesman said.”The incident was recorded and a video placed on the internet.’’ In a video still accessible on YouTube, six young men in hooded tops or wearing scarves over their faces can be seen pouring petrol on a book and setting it alight, before burning another. On the video, which appeared to have been filmed behind a pub, they cheer as the first book bursts into flames.

Northumbria Police said the men were not arrested for watching or distributing the video, but on suspicion of burning the Koran.

The actual facts of this particular case (at least as reported) are interesting. The burning appears to have been designed not as some sort of live spectacle, but rather as something to be put out onto the Internet later (the perpetrators are wearing masks, so it’s not unreasonable to assume that they were planning to circulate the footage), but “distributing” the video does not seem to have been what it was that brought the wrath of the law down upon their heads. Rather (and, again, if this has been correctly reported) it was the burning of the Koran itself.

(Cross-posted over at the Corner)