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Tuesday, March 20, 2012 

Not racially aggravated then.

The racially aggravated public order offence charge has then duly been dropped against Azhar Ahmed, who a couple of weeks back expressed in his own unique way that the sanctimony and mawkishness surrounding the deaths of the six soldiers in Afghanistan was just a little stifling. Well, OK, that doesn't quite cover it: he actually said all soldiers should die and that we should think just as much of those who've died as a result of our actions in the country. Was it offensive to some? Yes. Is it something he should be imprisoned for or really receive anything other than a warning, not even a caution? No.

Nonetheless, it was obvious that his status update on Facebook wasn't as expressed racially motivated in any way. Whether the initial charge when looked at in the cold light of day couldn't be upheld and the CPS realised this was the case, or whether some of the criticism online had an influence we will most likely never know. He does still face a charge under the 2003 Communications Act, which he has plead not guilty to, so hopefully he might yet be acquitted.

You do still have to wonder exactly why it is that Ahmed has been subject to the full force of the law for his outrageous statement, while those who responded to him have apparently faced no such inquiry for having used clearly racist language, just as it seems odd that Facebook have apparently no problem with continuing to host a page which originally called for Ahmed to be killed. Still, if nothing else it has provided a wonderful insight into the mindset of the English Defence League, who were outside the court protesting with signs calling for jail for those who insult troops: for those apparently professing to defend the honour of England, they seem to have forgotten that one of the values we genuinely do share is the belief in freedom of speech. The idea that soldiers can't defend themselves or alternatively are incredibly offended and saddened by the odd person with extreme views is also nothing short of hilarious.

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If it's the Communications Act then it's probably section 127 "sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character;"

So do the CPS think it was "grossly offensive"; "indecent"; "obscene" or "menacing". As you rightly point out why aren't they examining the others communications?

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