Saturday, January 9, 2016

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My Three Days at the “Satanic Islam” Trial – Part 3

Earlier this week Pastor James McConnell was acquitted in a Belfast court where he was "the accused" in the "Satanic Islam trial." His fellow pastor Nick Park, who accompanied James McConnell throughout the trial, recounts his experience of the courtroom. Nick Park blogs @ The Evangelical Seanchai.

The prosecution’s case against Pastor McConnell consisted of a DVD of the church service where he said of Muslims “But I don’t trust them” followed by more recordings, both audio and visual, from the BBC. It soon became apparent that a BBC ‘shock jock’, Stephen Nolan, had gone out of his way to manufacture a scandal where none existed. There is a difference between people who happen to hear a sermon genuinely getting offended, and the media contacting people who have never heard the sermon and inviting them to get offended!

Interestingly, the one person on the broadcasts who claimed to be offended, Dr Raied Al-Wazzan of the Belfast Islamic Centre, who had previously been described in the media as ‘the chief prosecution witness,’ did not appear in court. This may or may not have been linked to the fact that he had become embroiled in controversy himself by publicly praising Islamic State for making the city of Mosul (where Christians have suffered savage persecution) “the most peaceful city in the world.” Even though everyone in the courtroom was aware of this, the judge seemed keen to prevent any discussion of it. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief and thinking that you couldn’t make this stuff up!

The prosecution also read out a transcript of a police interview, where Pastor McConnell had been interviewed about a different charge than the one he was eventually charged with. The police officer who carried out the interview gave testimony that he was concerned that the pastor had mentioned “cells of Muslims” who were carrying out terrorist activity, and that this was similar to the activities of the IRA in the past. Mentioning the IRA, said the police officer, might stir up anti-Muslim hatred. I must admit that I personally found this to be incomprehensible. The whole world knows that there Al Qaeda and Islamic State have terrorist cells, and that the cell-structure they use is indeed one that has been used by other terrorist groups.

Under questioning from the defence lawyer, the police officer did admit that Pastor McConnell had an exemplary character, had a perfect right to choose whom he did and did not trust, and had apologised if his remarks had unwittingly hurt or caused offence to any individual Muslim.

And that was the prosecution case. There were no witnesses testifying as to how they had been offended by Pastor McConnell’s words. The prosecutor made a speech in which he acknowledged the pastor’s human rights to practise his faith, but argued that Muslims also have human rights to practise their faith (which of course they do) and that must not be interfered with. He didn’t go on to explain how the pastor’s words (“But I don’t trust them”) had interfered in any way whatsoever with even one single Muslim’s right to practise their faith.

At this point the defence lawyer made an application for the case to be summarily dismissed since the prosecution had failed to make their case. I must admit that I had thought the judge would agree to this. However, after taking a break to consider the matter, the judge ruled that the trial should continue.

Sitting with Pastor McConnell, I could see the toll that this trial was having on his family. He himself, although 78 years old, was still in robust good humor. He made a point of going to greet many of his friends and supporters in the public gallery. But the stress these events placed on his loved ones was distressing to see.


In tomorrow’s blogpost I will conclude this series of articles by describing the defence’s presentation of its case and the end of the trial.

5 comments :

AM said...

Nick so well captures the "I insist on there being a right not to offend me" culture and how Red Top TV like Nolan helps to create it in a bid not to report the story but to make it.

Christy Walsh said...

A good result for the Pastor. I am sure in a gesture of goodwill it is not beyond his churche's christian values to buy Dr Raied Al-Wazzan a one way ticket to any 'peaceful' ISIS controlled city of his choice. Although I am not a member of his church I would be prepared to make a contribution to such a gesture of christian goodwill.

DaithiD said...

The chief prosecution witness was an Islamic State supporter? No doubt he misunderstood the peaceful texts, but I wonder how he attained such a position without being found out before? Some innocent oversight over the decades no doubt. Has their been any blanket coverage of warnings about the backlash against Muslims after the trial yet?

Christy Walsh said...

DD

I presume Al-Wazzan would be well schooled in the Islamic doctrine of taqiya.

DaithiD said...

Christy, I'm not sure they need to employ it , the general public would not believe aspects of their faith even when it's played out on their news media,along with all the scriptural justifications. Their codependents on the left are always willing forgive anything, and are ready to smear for them too. God what a pathetic bunch we have become. So stupid and fat we are easily mislead. We deserve Colognes, and many many more .