A UKIP peer has told the House of Lords about his fears of being arrested for reading the Bible out loud in public.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who briefly led UKIP and memorably forgot the contents of the party's 2010 general election manifesto, submitted a question to the Lords about the "risk that Christians could be recorded as having committed an anti-Muslim hate crime ... by reading out loud sections of the Bible in public".
He said it was "brave" of David Cameron to say in his Christmas message that Jesus was the only son of God, because "that won't have gone down all that well with the Islamists".
Pearson was told by Home Office undersecretary Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon that he shouldn't worry about being arrested for reading the Bible, because "it is not a crime". The UKIP peer then asked if he would be arrested if he "goes a little further" and "denies the supremacy of the Qur'an, and thus the divinity of Allah".
"I assume the noble lord agrees," said Pearson, "that the serious hatred is coming from the jihadists against non-Muslims and against those brave Muslims who oppose the jihadists' evil creed and who form the large majority of the thousands they have slaughtered.
"How can anyone be guilty of hate if they preach their own religion even outside a mosque and take part in a much-needed debate about Islam?"
Ahmad told him that "bigotry has no place" in the UK, and reminded Pearson that Muslims would not have a problem with him praising Jesus, "because, as the noble lord knows, Muslims also regard and revere prophet Jesus as a prophet of God".
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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