Archbishop – no right not to be offended by frank assertions about faith

On Wednesday 3rd February 2016 Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty’s Government “what progress has been made by the review into funding for extremist interpretations of Islam within the United Kingdom, including from overseas sources, announced by the Prime Minister on 2 December 2015 with the declared intention that it would report by the spring of 2016.” The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, asked a follow up question:

Archbishop of CanterburyThe Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, it is widely agreed that all statements that tend towards causing hatred, contempt and violence towards other faiths should not be permitted, but does the Minister nevertheless agree that it is not extremist in any way, and should in fact be encouraged, for there to be statements that are frank and categorical assertions of faith or no faith, and that there is no right not to be offended or hurt by such statements?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: I agree on the whole issue of interpretations and the right not to be offended, because after all that is what we are protecting here in our country. I think that there is a distinct line to be drawn when it comes to any conservative practice of a particular religion. Indeed, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister is on record, when referring to Islam in particular, as saying that anyone who is devout of faith can be anything but an extremist. The right to offend someone and not to be offended remains a value that we wish to protect, but we need to stand up to those who seek to divide us and to create division between society and faiths. That is certainly what our counterextremism strategy is all about.