An evangelical preacher who described Islam as satanic and heathen is to be prosecuted for insult.
Speaking to his congregation in north Belfast on 18 May, McConnell said:
A new evil had arisen and
there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain.
Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell.
In a statement, Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said the
firebrand preacher had refused to accept a lesser punishment which meant the case would not have gone to court. A spokespersector said:
I can confirm that following consideration of a complaint in relation to an
internet broadcast of a sermon in May 2014, a decision was taken to offer an individual an informed warning for an offence contrary to the Communications Act 2003.
That offence was one of sending, or causing to be sent, by means
of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive. The offer of an informed warning was refused by the defendant and accordingly the matter is now proceeding by way of a summary prosecution in the
Pastor McConnell initially defended his remarks made during a sermon at his Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle last May but, following a huge public outcry he apologised for any offence or distress caused.
Offsite Comment: A disgraceful use of the Communications Act
The Odeon group has said it will not refuse entry to men to a film being screened as part of the London Israeli Film Festival.
Israeli Charedi film-maker Rechy Elias said she did not want men to see her historical romance, Gift of Fire.
Venues JW3 and the Odeon cinema in Swiss Cottage had agreed to a
female only audience despite complaints from men who have requested to see the film. But, Odeon has now decided to lift the restriction. A spokesman said:
We offer a wide range of films throughout the year for
all our guests to enjoy. We do not, and will not, restrict entry to any film based on gender.
Festival organisers responded to the Odeon statement by saying they:
Will stand outside the cinema and
stop men from going in if we have to.
In response to the Odeon deciding not to enforce gender segregation, the co-founders of the festival, Odelia Haroush, Anat Koren and Patty Hochmann released a joint statement saying they were withdrawing the film. They said:
We could not accommodate Mrs Elias's religious requirements and enable the cinema to maintain its policy not to restrict entry to any film based on gender.
The film contains women dancing and singing, and the
Charedi community, and indeed many religious Jews, do not feel that men should be watching this.
We respect the position of the filmmaker and the cinema alike, but have decided at this time we need to honour both parties and the
only way to do so is to cancel the screening at Odeon Swiss Cottage.
The Victoria and Albert museum has attempted to conceal its ownership of a devotional image of the religious character Muhammad, citing security concerns, in what is part of a wider pattern of apparent self-censorship by British institutions that
scholars fear could undermine public understanding of Islamic art and the diversity of Muslim traditions .
Similar images have been shown in exhibitions across Europe and America without prompting outrage, much less protests or a violent response.
British museums and libraries hold dozens of these images, mostly miniatures in manuscripts several centuries old, but they have been kept largely out of public view. Fear of displaying them is apparently driven by controversy about satirical or
offensive portraits of Muhammad by non-Muslims, despite the huge difference in form and purpose.
When the V&A was asked if it held any images of Muhammad after the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo , it said there were
none. A US expert later provided a link to a poster in its collection, with the inscription Mohammad the Prophet of God . That page in the database was deleted last week, but can still be found in a cached version. A spokeswoman said their
original response was an honest error .
Other British institutions with images of Muhammad in their Islamic art collections show some on websites, but have shied away from exhibitions.