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British Parliament Discusses Adding ‘religion’ to Bill on Racialism

Aproposal that the race relations bill now pending in Parliament add the word “religion” to the measure, so as to include Jews specifically, was debated today as a House of Commons committee continued to consider the draft.

The amendment to the act, by specifically adding the word “religion,” was introduced by Paul Rose, and warmly supported by Reginald Freeson, Both are members of the Labor Partyl Mr. Freeson is a Jew, Mr. Rose argued that “religion” must be added, in addition to “emric and racial groups,” if the bill would “work effectively for the prevention of anti-Jewish bias.” Mr. Freeson told the committee that, “whatever the intentions of the drafters of the bill may be, many people doubt whether the Jews would be covered. These doubts must be dispelled.”

Opposition to inclusion of the word “religion” was voiced by Sir Frank Soskice, the Home Secretary, and by a Conservative member of Parliament, Nor man St. John Stevas. The Iatter, a well-known writer, argued that, if the Jews were to be singled out by religious identification, Parliament would, in effect, employ the very terminology used by neo-Nazis like Colin Jordan, leader of the British Nazi Movement. Such terminology, re-maintained, would be “putting the Jews into a separate category.”

Sir Frank, opposing the Rose amendment, told the committee that the drafters of the bill assumed that religion was “something personal to each citizen, and not a distinctive definition applying to a group.” For that reason, he said, “it is better to have Jews and other religious minorities covered in the definition of racial and ethnic groups.”

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