Matt Purple

An acclaimed British author could be charged with committing a hate crime after offering a scathing criticism of Islamic radicalism.

Ian McEwan, author of widely praised novels Atonement and Enduring Love, condemned Muslim extremists for attempting to establish a tyrannical society intolerant of women and homosexuals. His comments were made in the context of defending his friend and fellow novelist Martin Amis, who had previously been denounced as a racist for other supposedly anti-Islamic remarks.

“Martin is not a racist,” McEwan told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “And I myself despise Islamism, because it wants to create a society that I detest, based on religious belief, on a text, on lack of freedom for women, intolerance towards homosexuality and so on – we know it well.”

He also attacked pro-Muslim political correctness. “As soon as a writer expresses an opinion against Islamism, immediately someone on the left leaps to his feet and claims that because the majority of Muslims are dark-skinned, he who criticizes it is racist,” he said.

McEwan’s comments caused an uproar and were promptly denounced by the Muslim Council of Britain.

And that could be just the beginning. McEwan could also be brought up on hate crime charges, according to The [UK] Independent.

The British Home Office defines a hate crime as “[a]ny incident, which constitutes a criminal offense, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.” This includes certain forms of speech and expression, including “offensive posters and leaflets, abusive gestures … and bullying at school or in the workplace”.

This language is sometimes interpreted broadly. Earlier this year, a police officer in West Midlands told two Christian evangelicals that they could be charged with committing a hate crime for preaching their message in an Islamic neighborhood. “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned,” he said.

Martin Amis, the novelist whom McEwan was defending, found himself in hot water when he published an essay in which he wondered whether Muslims should be prevented from traveling and even deported.

“There’s a definite urge — don’t you have it? — to say, ‘The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order,’” he wrote.

Neither Amis nor McEwan have yet to be charged with hate crimes.


Matt Purple

Matt Purple is an editorial intern with Townhall.com and is studying politics at Catholic University.