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'Death penalty for gays' – five accused over leaflet campaign

Muslim men first to face trial under new hate laws for handing out anti-gay flyers near Derby mosque

A group of Muslim men handed out leaflets after Friday prayers at a Derby mosque demanding the death penalty for homosexuality, a court as heard.

Derby Crown Court was told that Ihjaz Ali, 42, Mehboob Hussain, 45, brothers Umar Javed, 38, and Razwan Javed, 27, and Kabir Ahmed, 28, distributed literature depicting a mannequin hanging from a noose and denouncing sexual acts between gay couples as a sin.

All five deny stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, in the first prosecution of its kind since legislation came into force in March 2010.

The jury was yesterday warned not to treat the case as one of the right to religious freedom of expression but as a deliberate attempt to incite hostility.

Prosecutor Bobbie Cheema exhibited three leaflets some containing excerpts from the Koran, which she said were "threatening, offensive, frightening and nasty". The first, "The Death Penalty?", suggested three ways to murder homosexuals. It was handed out in July last year around the Jamia Mosque in Derby in the run up to a Gay Pride march.

A second, "Turn or Burn", which had earlier been put through neighbourhood letterboxes, depicted images of a burning lake of fire and an image of Hell. A third, also delivered to homes, used the word "GAY" – used as an acronym for God Abhors You.

In evidence one man who received the "Turn or Burn" leaflet said it made him feel as if he might be attacked in his own home because he was gay. Another said he feared his house would be firebombed.

The court heard that Mr Ali had been warned about using offensive language by police after planning a counter protest to the Pride march. He showed officers – already investigating the leaflets after public complaints – slogans intended for use on placards. These included: "Stay gay and you will pay" and "Adam and Eve, not Steve".

Mr Ahmed told police the views expressed an Islamic perspective on homosexuality and it was his duty as a Muslim to condemn the practice, the court heard. Razwan Javed had also admitted distributing the leaflets but said it was only to raise awareness not to frighten or threaten anyone.

The trial continues.