Manchester Police Chief Thinks You’re Not Free To Offend Religion


It’s such a shame that those eager to limit freedom of speech never do us the courtesy of starting with their own stupidity. I’m always amazed when people who enjoy a free, western democracy pay lip service to theocracy. It’s especially concerning when such a person happens to be a Chief Inspector for Greater Manchester Police in the UK.

Chief Inspector Umer Khan thought it was a good idea to share this pearl of wisdom today on his Twitter account:



Of course, any thinking person knows that’s exactly what freedom of speech means. Speech can never truly be ‘free’ unless it includes the right to say things some people may not enjoy hearing. Indeed, the right to ‘blaspheme’, mock sacred cows and challenge taboos is what has led to progress in any civil society. The price for this has always been ‘offense’. And the great thing about ‘offense’ is that it’s cheap.

By Umer Khan’s understanding, we are not free to offend people who endorse FGM, denigrate gay people as ‘sinners’ or think the appropriate punishment for adultery is death by stoning. It’s their ‘culture’, ‘tradition’ and ‘religion’ after all. Am I not free to tell a believer that some verses of the old testament are morally repugnant, lest they take offense?

It’s been said a million times before, and it’s important enough to be said a million times again: No-one has the right not to be offended. Offense is taken, not given. Just because you’re offended does not mean you’re right.

Umer Khan would say he’s entitled to his opinion of course, which is true. However, he’s clearly tweeting his opinion in his capacity as Chief Inspector. An opinion on what freedom of speech is or is not. In other words, his opinion on what the law means, or should mean.

It’s worth reminding Chief Inspector Khan that section 5 of the public order offence was reformed in 2013 to remove the criminalisation of “Insulting words or behaviour”. It is also worth reminding the Chief Inspector that the EU Guidelines  clearly state that religious freedom ‘does not include the right to have a religion or a belief that is free from criticism or ridicule’.

With this in mind, perhaps Chief Inspector Khan could explain to the public and to his superiors why he is promoting sentiment that directly contradicts the law? I would submit that upholding the letter of the law is the bare minimum that should be expected from him.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • So true and pertinent. This sort of thought process belongs in the middle ages…..

  • What is it with Manchester Police chiefs, I seem to remember one back in the 80’s who claimed to have a hotline to god and famously declared that gays were swirling in a cesspit of their own making.

  • Tommy Peanuts

    Seems he’s deleted the tweet and posted a mild apology about “offending” people with it. Personally, I wasn’t offended – I just thought he was an idiot for saying it. He posts a number of generally right-thinking if platitudinous noise on his Twitter account so I assume he’s harmless otherwise.

  • abnormalwrench

    Doesn’t the inspector realize how offensive his position is? Shouldn’t he arrest himself once he realizes how many people he offended?

  • Wonder what the new mayor of London thinks about this?

  • he defended it with an Auschwitz defence…. !!! which he deleted..
    saved copy, retweeted here:

  • Governments need to ensure that civil/public servants understand the importance of a secular state.

  • What was most telling was that he chose to send this rubbish from his official GMP account, thus lending it an air of authority & legitimacy, added to by his rank & photo in uniform. He failed to answer my request to back his claim in law and deleted the post while another user was mid-tweet. Not impressed.

  • What might be considered three of the most offensive books in history are the Koran, Torah, and Bible, they offend/contradict one another, and universally offend non-believers/women/homosexuals…and support slavery.

    They exist because of free speech.

    This guy seems to have changed tacks on his Twitter page, good on everyone who called him out.

    • Hear hear. I think he should be forced to resign. He clearly doesn’t understand the importance of free speech in a democracy.

    • I would like to ask the chief inspector if he thinks its OK for a 6-year old girl to be “married” to a 53 year old man.

    • They sort of exist because of free speech although the concept had obviously not been invented when they were written. However, in most western countries, the concept of freedom of speech is limited. As far as I know most western countries forbid what is today called hate speech (the denigration of a people as an identifiable group) and advocacy of violence. The Qur’an includes both. It is virulently anti-Semitic in the Jewish sense.

  • Are we talking about Manchester, Pakistan or the Manchester in the UK?

  • Pingback: Muslim Police Chief Says ‘Offending Culture, Religion And Tradition’ Not Protected As Free Speech |

  • Whilst I’m in total agreement with you about the right to give offence, it’s strange to me how you choose such a stereotypical and counter-factual example: “By Umer Khan’s understanding, we are not free to offend people who endorse FGM, denigrate gay people as ‘sinners’” etc. I say counter-factual because I’ve yet to hear of anyone prosecuted for offending FGM-endorsers, nor for offending people who denigrate gay people as sinners, yet I have heard of a person being convicted for denigrating gay people as sinners (

    Your attachment to free speech would look more like principle if you were to write about the actual speech-crime convictions of those who disagree with you, rather than the hard-to-imagine prosecution of those who agree with you.

    • Stephen Knight

      This was a blog about a police inspector failing to understand free speech, not a case study. The examples given were done so just to show why certain traditions, religions & cultures deserve ‘offense’.

      Feel free to write your own blog on ‘actual speech-crime convictions’. Mine was about a clueless cop.

  • You disappeared my post; why – because I only mostly agreed with you?

    • Stephen Knight

      I didn’t ‘disappear’ anything. As you’re a first time poster and your post included a link it went into my moderation queue. I couldn’t care less how much you agree with me (or not)

  • Right lads it’s time to man Up and fight for your country plan & scheme there will be a breaking point just be ready. Get prepared. traitors first. Pass it on

  • Obviously, if you give a muslim a position of responsibility and power he will misuse it, because his first loyalty will always be to Islam, its laws and to his fellow muslims. We, our laws and traditions mean nothing to him.

  • It seams Chief Inspector Umer Khan thinks he is still living by rules set out by the Pakistani government.
    Just take a look at this section of the PAKISTANI PASSPORT APPLICATION FORM,

    I___________________________S/o, W/o, D/o_____________________________aged__________years, adult Muslim resident of______________________________________________________Declare:-
    (i) I am a Muslim and belive in the absolute and unqualified finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) as the last of the Prophets.
    (ii) I do not recognizw any person who claims to be a prophoet in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever after Muhammad (peace be upon Him) or recognize s uch a claimant as a prophet or a religious reformer as or a Muslim. (iii) I consider Mirza ghulam Ahmad Quadiani to be an imposter Nabi and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori or Quadiani group to be non-Muslim
    Signature of Applicant:-_______________________

    Do we know if Chief Inspector Umer Khan still holds a PAKISTANI PASSPORT?

  • Pingback: Muslim Police Chief Says ‘Offending Culture, Religion And Tradition’ Not Protected As Free Speech - Breitbart

  • It could be he is thinking of applying for a new more senior position with the religious police in Tehran?
    He’d fit right in with them with his apparent views.
    Perhaps he should head up the investigation team looking into the murders of Bangladeshi bloggers?
    I am sure – under him – such an investigation would go nowhere, just as it has in Bangladesh.
    He’d fit right in, in Bangladesh.

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