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Mike's Ilford Recorder Column 15 January 2015

Our global modern values of equality, education for girls, freedom of speech, tolerance of minority beliefs and respect for others face vicious assault from brutal terrorist groups.  

They falsely claim to act in the name of Islam but most of their victims are Muslims. Thousands are murdered by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and by the Da'esh ISIL cult in Syria and Iraq.

Last month hundreds came to the steps of Redbridge Town Hall to express solidarity with school children murdered by Pakistani Taliban. Last week hundreds of Parliamentarians and staff at Westminster expressed solidarity with France and #JeSuisCharlie. The 17 who died in Paris were humanists, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

In London on 7/7 the 52 killed were of different faiths and nationalities. What they had in common was that they were all innocent human victims. These terrorists attack us not for what we have done but for what we are and that includes our respect and tolerance of those who are different and those who may offend us.

The UK is a society based on the rule of law. Those laws include defamation, libel and slander and incitement to racial and religious hatred. For centuries cartoons in newspapers and magazines and satirical mockery of powerful institutions, religions and individuals have been an integral part of the culture of our country.

In the eighteenth century Hogarth and Gillray mocked the Georgian monarchy. In the twentieth century Spitting Image ridiculed Margaret Thatcher on television and Monty Python mocked religion in The Life of Brian. Those who are offended by cartoons can choose not to buy the paper or magazine. Those who are offended by theatre can choose not to buy tickets. Those who are offended by TV programmes can switch to another channel.

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