Britain’s New Blasphemy Police? Understanding Islamist Anti-Blasphemy Action in the UK

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Britain’s New Blasphemy Police? Understanding Islamist Anti-Blasphemy Action in the UK

19th July 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Anti-blasphemy action has found a home in the UK since the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his deemed blasphemous ‘Satanic Verses.’ Since then we have seen murders in the UK, a firebombing of a publishing house, a teacher in hiding and multiple death threats on account of perceived blasphemy. What may be more worrying than the trend itself is the infiltration the thinking has had into politics and governance. Following calls from William Shawcross’ Prevent Review to afford more attention to understanding action related to preventing blasphemy, our new paper investigates ideological and organisational patterns behind extreme anti-blasphemy action in the UK. It highlights a number of risk groups and risk behaviours that suggest a high likelihood of sympathy towards violence in the name of anti-blasphemy. It goes on to assess the local authority and governmental responses to violent or threatening anti-blasphemy action, finding a lack of consistency and at times complicity with the anti-blasphemy actors.

As a former Prevent practitioner and counter extremism coordinator for the UK government, the author of the report Charlotte Littlewood has made targeted and informed recommendations to the Department for Education, the Commission for Countering Extremism, the Police, the Home Office and the Charities Commission.

On behalf of Tim Loughton MP, The Henry Jackson Society welcomes you to the launch of the first in-depth report to look at the ideological underpinnings of extreme anti-blasphemy action in the UK and the effectiveness of the UK government, policing and local authority response. The distinguished speakers will explore ideological links across cases and inconsistencies across the responses whilst forwarding solutions that will afford a consistent, robust approach.



Charlotte Littlewood is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. She is a PhD candidate in Arab and Islamic studies with the University of Exeter University. Her research focuses on minority within Muslim minority conflict in the UK, in particular the persecution of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and the extent to which the UK is able to support this community.

Charlotte started her career as a Prevent practitioner on behalf of the UK government, going on to be a Counter-Extremism Coordinator for an East London Borough. From this Charlotte went on to found her own community interest company with the aim of countering extremism and promoting equality. She developed and took projects that focused on women’s rights and tackling domestic violence to the West Bank, Palestine. Alongside this she consulted for Muslims Against Antisemitism, working towards greater tolerance and cohesion between communities in the UK.

Charlotte has a LLB in Law and MA in Security and Strategy.



Tom Slater is the editor of spiked, the political magazine that campaigns for free speech with no ifs and no buts. He has also written for the Spectator, the Telegraph, the Sun and The Sunday Times, and regularly appears on GB News, the BBC, Sky News and Talk TV. Tom is also the co-host of The spiked podcast, a weekly roundup of politics and controversy.




Wasiq Wasiq is an academic and Associate Fellow at Henry Jackson Society with an expertise in extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.

Wasiq currently writes extensively on matters of antisemitism, extremism and terrorism for a number of well-known media outlets such as: Jewish News, Spiked and Unherd. Furthermore, Wasiq has also appeared on broadcast media such as, BBC, GB News, LBC and Talk TV to provide expert commentary on related matters.


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Prior to Parliament, Tim Loughton worked in the private sector as a fund manager in the City of London before becoming a Director at Fleming Private Asset Management. Tim was first elected to Parliament in 1997 as Member for East Worthing and Shoreham and has been re-elected in 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Tim has held various positions during his time in Parliament. He was Shadow Minister for Environment from 2000, Shadow Minister for Health and Children from 2001 (3) during the Conservative Party’s time in opposition. He was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Children and Families following the 2010 General Election until 2012 leading on several areas of successful reform in child protection, child sexual exploitation and adoption in particular.

From the backbenches, he continues to work vigorously in support of improving the life chances of children and young people and making sure their voices are heard in Parliament. Tim chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Conception to Age 2 (first 1001 days) which is undertaking important work to improve Government’s work in peri-natal mental health and strong attachment for young children. He sits on the influential Home Affairs Select Committee. Tim chairs a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups covering a wide range of issues, such as Tibet, Archaeology, The British Museum, Armenia and Yemen, as well as co-chairs the APPG for Mindfulness and APPG for Children. Tim was also elected as Vice Chair of the All-Party Groups on Youth and Care Leavers.

In 2019 he successfully piloted one of the most comprehensive Private Member’s Bills through Parliament which instituted civil partnerships for opposite sex couples; gives power to coroners to investigate stillbirths and enables mothers to enter their name on marriage certificates for the first time.

As well as continuing as a Vice-President of the Local Government Association (LGA), Tim has recently joined the Conservatives Against Racism For Equality (CARFE) as an advisory Board Member.





The Henry Jackson Society was delighted to be invited into Parliament by Tim Loughton MP to launch research fellow, Charlotte Littlewood’s report titled, ‘Britain’s New Blasphemy Police? Understanding Islamist Anti-Blasphemy Action in the UK’. Mr Loughton chaired a panel consisting of Charlotte Littlewood, Tom Slater and Wasiq Wasiq. Charlotte opened the discussion by expressing her discontent at the ‘offence first’ rather than ‘freedom-of-speech first’ approach of governmental bodies in tackling cases of religious Blasphemy. She proposed various recommendations which sought to find a middle ground such as providing forewarnings of potentially blasphemous topics providing pupils with a choice to leave lessons if necessary.  Wasiq added concern that governmental responses to cases of blasphemy fail to account for the diversity within Islamic thought and actively undermine the status of minority sects such as Ahmadi Muslims. Tom Slater furthered the case for a ‘freedom-of-speech’ driven approach by highlighting that the concept of freedom of speech originated from the right to blaspheme. He was also keen to criticise the official definition of Islamophobia and suggested that the current state of multiculturalism in the UK was a ‘con’ where religious leaders claimed to represent large communities despite the wide array of theological thought within each group.




19th July 2023
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Thatcher Room, Portcullis House
London, SW1A 2JR United Kingdom
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Charlotte Littlewood, Tom Slater, Wasiq Wasiq


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