Anti-cartoon protester convicted of inciting racial hatred

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The Independent Online

A website designer who called for the killing of British troops at a demonstration against anti-Islamic cartoons has been convicted of inciting racial hatred.

Mizanur Rahman, 23, was yesterday found guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour during the violent protests in London over Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed.

The British Muslim from Palmers Green, north London, was arrested on 3 February as he demonstrated with 300 other people outside the Danish embassy in Sloane Street, central London, to protest about cartoons published by a newspaper in Denmark.

The Old Bailey heard that he addressed the protest on the issue of UK troops in Iraq, saying: "We want to see their blood running in the streets of Baghdad."

David Perry QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that Rahman had also called for more September 11-style terrorist attacks. "What he said was this, 'Oh Allah, we want to see another 9/11 in Iraq, another 9/11 in Denmark, another 9/11 in Spain, in France, all over Europe," Mr Perry said.

The prosecution said that Rahman was filmed calling for troops to be brought back to the UK in body bags. He was also photographed holding placards which said "Annihilate those who insult Islam".

Mr Perry said that the defendant had spoken of the British and American forces in Iraq, saying: "The mujahideen will destroy them and their freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Falluja and in Baghdad."

The prosecution emphasised that freedom of speech did not stretch to inciting the murder of religious opponents.

In his defence, Rahman, who denied the charges, said that he had no intention of anyone carrying out the actions he had called for.

His counsel, John Burton, told members of the jury that it was not enough for them to be "offended, shocked and distressed" by the comments. "It is a matter of whether a serious crime has taken place," he added. Mr Burton likened the defendant's comments to those heard at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, London.

The jury found him guilty of stirring up racial hatred, but they could not agree on a second charge of inciting murder.

Rahman was remanded in custody while the prosecution decide whether there will be a retrial. The case was adjourned until Monday for the Crown to consider its position.