Fact Check: Britain Does NOT Forbid Christians To Sing Religious Songs In Public


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Fact Check: Britain Does NOT Forbid Christians To Sing Religious Songs In Public Cop Was Wrong

Does Britain forbid people to sing Christian music in public while allowing muezzins to freely serenade the Muslim faithful? No, that's not true: The claim is based on a statement by a single volunteer policewoman who was caught on video telling a Christian singer that she could not perform outside of church. London Metropolitan Police explained that the officer was trying to enforce a local prohibition on busking -- not a nationwide ban on Christian songs -- and had "made a mistake."

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok on February 4, 2024, under the title "Can you guess which country forbade a woman to sing Christian songs on the street?" (Translation from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories staff). The presenter, Dávid Filep (archived here), goes by the pseudonym A kopasz oszt (The bald guy shares) at Megafon Center, which produces social media content in support of Hungary's governing Fidesz party. Filep said (as translated):

Can you guess the country where you're not allowed to sing Christian songs on the street? The answer is, the United Kingdom! Check this out!

The video wipes to a shot of a woman in a police uniform saying in thickly accented English:

No, miss! You're not allowed to sing church songs outside the church grounds, by the way.

Filep then comments (as translated):

You heard it right! The London policewoman warned the singer not to sing Christian songs outside of church. This is not some Middle Eastern country or some forlorn desert area where terrorists rule. This is London... So while muezzins can sing freely, Christians should just shut their mouths and not sing on the streets. That's what it's come to.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-02-21 at 10.30.16.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Feb 21 09:30:16 2024 UTC)

British media have identified the officer in the video as Maya Hadzhipetkova (archived here), a volunteer with London's Metropolitan Police originally from Bulgaria. On January 28, 2024, gospel singer Harmonie London posted a clip (archived here) of Hadzhipetkova telling her to stop singing Christian music on her Instagram account. The video ends with Hadzhipetkova sticking out her tongue as she walks away.

London regularly posts videos of herself performing on the streets of the British capital on her YouTube channel (archived here), which had more than 342,000 subscribers at the time of writing.

The video provoked an uproar among British commentators including former Minister of State for Prisons Ann Widdecombe. At the 2:20 mark of an interview with GB News (archived here) published on YouTube on January 29, 2024, Widdecombe said Hadzhipetkova should be:

struck off the voluntary police force tomorrow morning. I mean, she really has got the law completely wrong, and she was obviously enjoying herself rather too much, trying to boss [Harmonie London] around. And there is no basis at all for saying that you can't sing. I could walk down the street singing 'Onward, Christian Soldiers' and I would be committing no offense at all.

On January 29, 2024, the London Metropolitan Police said in a post on X (archived here) that the incident stemmed from Hadzhipetkova's misinterpretation of "a specific by-law related to busking." It added:

The officer knows she could have handled this differently and is speaking to her manager.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mark Rowley confirmed this at the 1:34:21 mark of an interview with BBC Radio London on February 1, 2024 (archived here). He said Hadzhipetkova:

was on patrol, and because of complaints about busking, decided to deal with the case. And she didn't deal with it perfectly well... We said, 'Yep, sorry, we got that slightly wrong.' ... She is a volunteer doing her best who made a mistake.

Article 9 (2) of Britain's 1998 Human Rights Act (archived here) guarantees the right to free religious expression, with exceptions only in specific cases:

Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Nowhere does the law prohibit the public performance of Christian music.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán describes himself, as translated, (archived here) as a Christian whose government is "in the constant crossfire of anti-Christian European forces."


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