A British man was arrested on March 23 for a tweet he posted that went viral. Authorities said the tweet incited racial hatred.
Police charged PR boss Matthew Doyle, 46, under the Public Order Act, for “publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting, likely or intended to stir up racial hatred,” a police report reads.
Doyle is scheduled to appear in court on March 26.
“I confronted a Muslim woman in Croydon yesterday," said the original tweet before Twitter took it down, USAUKOnline.com reports. "I asked her to explain Brussels. She said 'nothing to do with me'. A mealy mouthed reply.”
When questioned about the tweet, Doyle appeared to show no remorse.
“I don't care anymore. I am just making a point. I am not out of sync. I think people who are criticizing me are out of sync,” he said, and added, “I have the right in a democratic society to speak my own mind.”
“I don't think it's stereotyping. Would you be afraid of me on the Tube? Any Londoner has to be vigilant and alert as the Islamic threat is a big one. It could happen here and it probably will. There was 7/7 and then look what happened with Lee Rigby, that was horrific,” Doyle added.
Yet while many were shocked and outraged by his comments, his arrest is proving controversial. Some see it as an attack on people’s right to freedom of speech.
“Now, if this encounter really did happen -- and many have their doubts -- it was a rude and ugly thing for him to have done. But to be arrested for tweeting about the incident, on suspicion of ‘inciting racial hatred?'” writes Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator, later calling it “outrageous.”
“The true horror here is not what Doyle said -- it’s his arrest,” O’Neill continues. “That should make you angry. Because if we aren’t free to say silly things to people, and to tweet about it later, then we aren’t free.”
“It’s that simple,” he added. “Laugh at Doyle all you like, but his arrest is as much an attack on your freedom as it is on his freedom, because it tells us there are certain things we may not think or tweet without facing potential arrest.”