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‘What is going on in this country?’: MP angered by ban imposed on gymnast Louis Smith

Peterborough gymnast Louis Smith has been defended by a Hertfordshire MP after he was given a two-month suspension from the sport over a video in which he appeared to mock Islam.

The 27-year-old has received death threats since the footage emerged and at Prime Minister's Questions today Conservative MP Charles Walker suggested he should be given more support.

Smith himself has apologised for the video and admitted his actions were "offensive" and "ignorant".

Theresa May has called for there to be a balance. Credit: PA

Speaking in the Commons today, Mr Walker suggested his colleagues had "looked the other way" over the reaction to Smith's conduct.

"When people make fun of Christianity in this country, it rightly turns the other cheek," he said.

"When a young gymnast, Louis Smith, makes fun of another religion widely practised in this country, he is hounded on Twitter by the media and suspended by his association.

"For goodness sake, this man received death threats and we have all looked the other way.

"My question to the prime minister is this: What is going on in this country because I no longer understand the rules?"

Louis Smith has been banned for two months. Credit: PA

Theresa May responded by saying that there needed to be a balance between freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

"We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country - that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy," she said.

"But we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues that we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government has produced.

"I think we need to ensure that yes it is right that people can have that freedom of expression, but in doing so that right has a responsibility too - and that is a responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance to others."

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