Since when has a bad tattoo been a crime?

A bombed-mosque tattoo is moronic, but it's not a matter for the police.

What’s the most talked about tattoo of the moment? Until recently it was model Cara Delevingne’s weird lion design on her forefinger. But now there is another tatt grabbing the headlines – one that’s just led the bearer to be arrested.

Shaun Reah, 39, from South Shields, South Tyneside, has been nicked after being snapped on an English Defence League (EDL) rally displaying a tattoo featuring a cartoon of a mosque being blown up. According to a Northumbria Police spokesperson, Reah was arrested ‘on suspicion of using words or behaviour, or displaying written material with intent to stir up racial hatred’.

Come again? What hatred is actually being stirred up by a bad tattoo? Would anyone really feel motivated to blow up a mosque as a result of seeing it?

The one feeling the tattoo does seem to have stirred up is embarrassment – in Reah himself. Following the EDL demo, Reah had it removed because, as he told reporters, it was ‘just a daft thing to [have had done]’.

He can say that again. But should Reah be arrested and face possible criminal charges for sporting a daft tattoo? No matter how moronic the tattoo was, Reah should be free to ink whatever he likes on to his skin. The fashion police may want to have a word with him, but the real police should butt out.

Patrick Hayes is a columnist for spiked.

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