A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham. The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a "hate crime" and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned.Still, at least the ridiculous new legislation on religious crime can be put to some good use:
Arthur Cunningham, 48, and Joseph Abraham, 65, both full-time evangelical ministers, have launched legal action against West Midlands Police, claiming the officer infringed their right to profess their religion.But was there another agenda for this PCSO?
They said when the officer realised they were American, although both have lived in Britain for many years, he launched a tirade against President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.A Muslim area...? That must be a new designation by Ordnance Survey. Wonder what the map symbol will be...?
Mr Cunningham said: "I told him that this had nothing to do with the gospel we were preaching but he became very aggressive.
"He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station."
Still, I'm sure WMP were quick to row back from this embarrasing incident?
West Midlands Police, who refused to apologise, said the incident had been "fully investigated" and the officer would be given training in understanding hate crime and communication.Oh, I think he understands hate crime all too well...