British man charged with racial hatred for anti-Muslim tweet

British man charged with inciting racial hatred after posting anti-Muslim tweets following Belgium attacks

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

In this Wednesday Nov. 6, 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

A British man has been charged with using social media to incite racial hatred after posting anti-Muslim tweets in the days after the Brussels attacks.

Matthew Doyle was charged Friday after more than a day of questioning by police. The 47-year-old is scheduled to appear in court Saturday.

He is charged with publishing or distributing written material which is threatening, abusive or insulting and likely or intended to stir up racial hatred.

Doyle had tweeted about confronting a Muslim woman in south London and asking her views on the Brussels attacks. He said her response was "mealy mouthed."

He later used an anti-Muslim epithet to describe her. His tweets drew wide attention with many mocking him.

Doyle quickly deleted both tweets but the images of the postings were captured and retweeted many times.

He was taken in for questioning shortly after the tweets appeared on Wednesday.

British law protects freedom of speech, but the Crown Prosecution Service says a person can be charged with inciting racial hatred if they say or do something which is "threatening, abusive or insulting and, by doing so, either intends to stir up racial hatred, or makes it likely that racial hatred will be stirred up."

Prosecutors say stirring up "hatred" is a high legal bar and that the attorney general has to approve every case before charges can be filed.

Police and political leaders have warned of a possible surge in hate crimes against British Muslims in response to the Brussels attack.

TRTWorld, Reuters