You Can’t Preach The Bible Here, This Is A Muslim Area
(What a community policeman told two Christians)
By Steve Doughty and Andy Dolan
02nd June 2008
Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible extracts by police because they were in a Muslim area, it was claimed yesterday.
They say they were told by a Muslim police community support officer that they could not preach there and that attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity was a hate crime.
The community officer is also said to have told the two men: ‘You have been warned. If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned.’
A police constable who was present during the incident in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham is also alleged to have told the preachers not to return to the district. It comes amid growing concern over the development of Islamic ‘no-go areas’.
The preachers, Americans Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham, are demanding an apology and compensation from West Midlands Police.
They say their treatment breaks the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of religious expression.
The preachers, who have the backing of the Christian Institute pressure group, say they will take the force to court for breaching their human rights if they don’t receive an apology.
They have accused the officer, PCSO Naeem Naguthney, of behaving in an ‘aggressive and threatening’ manner. A complaint by their lawyers said he interrupted as they spoke to Muslim youths about their beliefs. Mr Abraham, 65, who was born a Muslim in Egypt and is a convert to Christianity, said: ‘He told us we were trying to convert Muslims to Christianity and that that was a hate crime.
‘He was very intimidating and it concerns me that somebody holding his views can become a police officer, albeit at PCSO level.’ Mr Cunningham, 48, a fellow American Baptist missionary, said: ‘He realised we were Americans and then started ranting at us about George Bush and American foreign policy.
‘He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said he was going to take us to the police station.’ Mr Cunningham added: ‘I am dumfounded that the police seem so nonchalant. They seem content not to make it clear that what we were doing was perfectly legal. This is a free country and to suggest we were guilty of a hate crime for spreading God’s word is outrageous.’
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