11 July 2015

Drop case against 'Satanic Islam' sermon pastor James McConnell, urges National Secular Society

The Public Prosecution Service is behaving in an "authoritarian manner" and is undermining freedom of speech by prosecuting Pastor James McConnell for his comments on Islam, the National Secular Society has said.

The society has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Barra McGrory raising "serious concern" and legal questions about the decision to prosecute the firebrand evangelical preacher.

The Belfast Telegraph yesterday revealed that the main witness in the prosecution case is set to be Dr Raied Al-Wazzan of the Belfast Islamic Centre, who earlier this year praised Islamic State for being a positive force in Mosul, his home city in Iraq.

Pastor McConnell potentially faces up to six months in prison if convicted over a sermon last year in which he branded Islam "heathen" and "Satanic". In his PSNI witness statement, Dr Al-Wazzan denounces the pastor's "terrible comments" which he finds "offensive and disgusting".

The Belfast Telegraph unsuccessfully tried to contact Dr Al-Wazzan for comment at the Belfast Islamic Centre yesterday. [Belfast Telegraph] Read more