11 October 2016

Smith should be free to mock Islam

Here’s a prediction: the Louis Smith video will become a test case, not merely of the illiberal contracts that British Olympians are required to sign by UK Sport to receive public money, but of the wider debate on free speech and religious tolerance.

Smith, in case you were unaware, filmed a private video — which inevitably ended up on the internet — where he and his friends mock Islam.

The film shows Luke Carson, a fellow gymnast who has recently retired from the sport, shouting “Allahu akbar” while lying face down on a prayer mat, as Smith giggles and provides commentary.

I am not sure that the video represents satire of the genius of, say, Life of Brian, but it certainly pokes fun at the idea that anyone would wish to spend their time shouting slogans at a fictional deity in the sky and, by implication, the underlying basis of Islam itself. [The Times (£)] Read more