Bible pest to judge: ‘You are deluded’
Noisy street preacher Michael Overd – accused of making homophobic and Islamophobic remarks – had the audacity to tell Judge Shamim Qureshi in Taunton Magistrates Court yesterday that he ‘needed to be born again and that he was deluded’.
Judge Qureshi, an advocate of shariah law who is also the presiding judge of the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, questioned Overd about mass murder in the Old Testament, and asked the Christian
screecher preacher if he would have a problem with other people preaching on other faiths in public.
You are in dire trouble, you need to be born again, you’re deluded, I care for your soul.
Ironically, Overd, who apparently detests Islam as much as homosexuality, found himself before one of the few Muslim judges in England after he was arrested for alleged preaching hate against Islam and and gays on the streets of Taunton on two occasions last June and July.
He was cross-examined yesterday afternoon and agreed with Laura Searle, prosecuting, that a balance had to be struck between freedom of speech and the rights of people to live with dignity and without fear.
He said that he may well have used the phrase “God made Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve” to witness Darren Chalmers. Chalmers is a gay Christian.
But he disagreed that by using the first part of a Leviticus passage and not the second that he knew parts of his message on homosexuality might have been seen as threatening and abusive.
I do not set out to hate or make people upset.
Overd also denied being hostile to other religions.
I have no personal hatred. I have Muslim friends, we don’t agree on certain things. I have every right to bring facts to the table and compare them, I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.
Sgt Neil Kimmins from Avon and Somerset Police was also questioned. He told the court that the police had received over 20 complaints about Overd’s preaching and that they [the police] had tried to meet with him to sort something out.
According to a BBC report, Overd said he saw his role as a “town crier” to “proclaim the Bible”.
The court was shown Mr Overd’s various video recordings of his sermons and interactions with members of the public.
Speaking of an encounter with a passer-by, Overd said:
I felt quite threatened because he came so close to me, he was jumping back, dodging around and tried to grab the microphone. That’s why I want the police to protect me.
In 2012 Overd was acquitted of verbally abusing two gay men. His acquittal was a rare victory for the Christian Legal Centre, which hired a barrister to fight his case.
A verdict is due on March 23 at Bristol Crown Court.