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Report No. 267

Racial and Religious Hate:

4.17 In a multicultural society discrimination based on race and religion is one of the parameters on which extremity of speech is measured. The Court in Jersild v. Denmark56 reversed the conviction of a journalist who interviewed a group called 'Greenjackets' to expose their racist attitude towards a minority section of the society. The Denmark Supreme Court held that the defamation and offence caused by the racist content of the interview outweighed the right of public to be informed; and therefore, could not be protected under right to freedom of expression. ECtHR reversed this decision and held that:

The picture which the applicant's programme presented to the public was more that of drawing attention to racism, intolerance and simple mindedness, exemplified by the remarks in question, than an attempt to show disrespect for the reputation or rights of others. In such circumstances the Commission finds that the reputation or rights of others, as legitimate aims for restricting the freedom of expression, carry little weight. 57

4.18 In the case of Anthony Norwood v. the United Kingdom,58 the court held that the applicant's act of displaying a poster on his window with the words "Islam out of Britain - Protect the British People" and 'a symbol of a crescent and star in a prohibition sign'59 portrayed racist bias and intolerance. Such an attack on a religious group was considered contrary to principles of non- discrimination and tolerance by the court.

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