Man arrested after 'Koran burning' in Carlisle

A man has been arrested after a Koran was allegedly burned during an anti-Islamic rant, police said.

He was held after a man was reported to have stood on a street in Carlisle city centre yesterday, loudly making pronouncements against the Muslim religion in front of a large crowd.

The man is then alleged to have set fire to the Koran he was holding before discarding it on the floor and hurrying away.

Officers arrived at the scene a short time later and are now investigating.

A spokesman for Cumbria Police confirmed that a 32-year-old man has been arrested.

He added: "Just after midday on Wednesday, police received reports that a Koran was being burned by a man in Carlisle city centre.

"Police have seized the remains of the book and a 32-year-old male has been arrested on suspicion of using racially aggravated threatening words or behaviour.

"The man remains in police custody where he is helping officers with their inquiries."

The incident came as controversial American preacher Pastor Terry Jones said he was disappointed to be barred from the United Kingdom, calling his exclusion from the country "unfair".

The preacher sparked outrage when he announced plans by his Florida-based church to burn copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America.

Pastor Jones had accepted an invitation to speak to a group called England Is Ours next month.

Speaking after the Home Office announced it would not allow him to enter the UK, he insisted he was not against Muslims or Islam, only the "radical element of Islam".

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms which is why we have excluded Pastor Terry Jones from the UK."

"Coming to the UK is a privilege, not a right, and we are not willing to allow entry to those whose presence is not conducive to the public good."

Pastor Jones' son, Pastor Luke Jones, expressed surprise that his father's visit had been banned.

"We don't think it benefits England - it's pretty ridiculous. In England you have got radical Muslims demonstrating in the streets and calling for the death of British soldiers, and nobody really does anything about that. I would call that hate speech.

"Our protests are against a book, the Koran - people are not our target. We should all be able to voice our opinion in a peaceful way.

"You are controlling what people say - how far do you let that go?"