24 June 2015

Imam joins secularists and Christians in defending Pastor James McConnell’s free speech

An Islamic scholar has said he is willing to go to prison to defend the free speech of Northern Ireland Pastor James McConnell, who is being prosecuted for comments he made on Islam.

Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini has penned an article for the Belfast Telegraph in which he strongly criticises the decision to prosecute Pastor James McConnell, after the Pastor described Islam as "Satanic" and "heathen".

Dr Al-Hussaini called the decision to press ahead with prosecution "extraordinary" and said it was "quite contrary to our country's tradition of freedom of expression."

He said, "It is of utmost concern that, in this country, we uphold the freedom to discuss, debate and critique religious ideas and beliefs - restricting only speech which incites physical violence."

The imam, a Senior Fellow at the Westminster Institute, said the case threatened freedom of religion and belief, and added, "I strongly uphold the moral right of Pastor McConnell and myself, as Christian and Muslim, to disagree about matters of doctrine and belief".

He said it was a matter of "deep dismay" that a "fellow citizen is being subjected to criminal proceedings, when at no time have any of the statements he has made incited to physical harm against anyone." [National Secular Society] Read more