Two men in court charged with religious hatred offences in the UK and US
A MAN in Leicester and a former US marine appeared in separate courts this week charged with crimes against Islam.
Peter James Crawford, 52, stands accused in Leicester Crown Court of publicly ripping pages from a Koran, and 52-year-old Randy Linn pleaded guilty before a federal judge in Ohio to setting fire to prayer mat in a mosque.
According to this report, Crawford, said to be an atheist, shocked Muslim volunteers at a stall promoting Islam when he ripped out pages from the Koran. He then threw the “holy book” onto the ground and told them:
Your religion is a load of bollocks.
Crawford denies causing religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress, by demonstrating hostility towards Islam.
The incident happened at the Islamic Information Centre’s stall, near the Clock Tower in Leicester city centre, on a busy Saturday afternoon on May 12.
Kamran Qayyum told the court:
We give out literature to create an awareness of Islam and engage with the public.
He was with four volunteers when Crawford began pacing around nearby. Qayyum said:
He started tearing up pages from a book and they were going on the floor. He wasn’t saying anything. The pages covered a lot of ground, they were everywhere.I then noticed Arabic inscriptions and realised it was the Koran. I knelt down and was picking up the papers when he threw the Koran down, just missing me.
The Koran is sacred to us and we honour it. We also have a Bible on our stand and we show the Bible the same respect.One of the laws of the Koran is it shouldn’t be on the floor, it should be high up and our hands should be clean when it’s touched. I was shocked.
Quyyum said that after the defendant was arrested:
He made a signal to us, shaping his hand in the form of a gun, saying ‘See you next Saturday.’
Defence advocate Steven Newcombe said:
There are many who oppose Islam. Did you take it he was expressing anti-Islamic views and disrespecting the religion?
“Yes,” said Quyyum.
Quyyum agreed that apart from a hand gesture – which Mr Newcombe suggested was the pointing of a finger rather than a gun gesture – the defendant did not threaten or provoke any violence.
Another stall volunteer, Zahid Hussein, said:
I saw him ripping up the book. I was in shock, disgusted. It’s our life, our way of life and we live by that book – it’s very sacred.
Crawford claimed he was expressing his disagreement with religion of any kind.
He told the police it was his own copy of the Koran he tore up, and he would have done the same with a Bible as he did not understand either holy book and “hated” all religion.
I’m not against the people, just their religion.
James Bide-Thomas, prosecuting, said:
The real issue is whether Crawford was insulting and whether it was a crime that we say he committed.
It’s tradition in this country of freedom of speech and people are entitled to say what they want, as long as it’s not illegal in relation to the law, which prevents people going out to cause harassment, alarm or distress by insulting behaviour, basically upsetting people.
It’s for you to decide whether what he did was insulting or whether it was a legitimate piece of freedom of speech being exercised or if what he did was deliberately calculated to upset the people from the Islamic Information Centre.
Randy Linn’s excuse for breaking into a mosque in Ohio and setting fire to a prayer rug was that he wanted revenge for the killings of American troops overseas, saying he’d become enraged after seeing images of wounded soldiers in the news.
Every day you turn on the TV, you see Muslims trying to kill Americans.
When asked by a federal judge whether he thought all Muslims are terrorists, he answered:
I’d say most of them are.
A deal between prosecutors and Linn calls for him to be sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment next April. He pleaded guilty to intentionally damaging and destroying religious property and two gun-related charges.
US District Judge Jack Zouhary told Linn that his acts were an attack on all places of religion and that the mosque was a symbol of peace.
You are no better than the terrorists or extremists you sought to punish.
US Attorney Steven Dettelbach said it was fortunate no one in the mosque at the time.
This is a man who had intolerance in his heart and acted with hate. We can count ourselves lucky.
Dr Mahjabeen Islam, President of the Islamic Centre, said its members been overwhelmed by support from the community and churches. But she was saddened by Linn’s statements in court.
It was heart-wrenching to hear him speak because the ignorance and intolerance is still palpable. This is an individual who knows nothing about Islam.
Linn said he started to have second thoughts when he drove home.
Coming back, I thought, ‘What in the heck did I do?’ I feel bad I did it. It’s a little too late now.
Hat tip: Great Satan & BarrieJohn (Crawford report) and Trevor Blake
Breaking news: A Missouri man who identifies as a male witch is behind bars after he placed several threatening phone calls to achurch, stating that he was going to burn down the building and kill the pastor.
Derek Ficik, 26, of Maryland Heights is accused of calling Matthias Lot Church in St Charles on Sunday night and leaving violent messages that included sexually explicit language.
According to reports, Ficik stated that he would “make the pastor pray to God as he shot him in the head,” and that he was going to:
Burn Christianity and all its followers and fill the seas with Christian blood.