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The police are enabling Islamic intolerance

Where can we provoke if not at Speakers’ Corner?

Artillery Row

Last year, the incredibly brave Christian evangelist Hatun Tash was brutally stabbed at Speakers’ Corner, in what was evidently an attempt on her life. I wrote about the incident for The Critic at the time, and indicated that this was not the first time that she had been assaulted there.

Hatun was not deterred. She continues to bravely preach at Speakers’ Corner — the place known as “the home of free speech” — every Sunday. Just days ago, on Sunday, 26 June, she was arrested by police there after having her Qur’an forcibly stolen from her.

Let’s remember that Jesus was pretty provocative at times

Yes, you read that right, she was arrested after her copy of the Qur’an was stolen from her. She had done nothing wrong herself. You can watch the footage of how the Qur’an was ripped out of her grip here. Shortly afterwards she was arrested. This is the third time she has had her Qur’an stolen from her at Speakers’ Corner. No one has ever been arrested for stealing her Qur’an, and her copies of the Qur’an have never been returned. This means that the robbers know they can get away with it and are therefore emboldened to steal again.

It is well-known that Hatun carries a copy of the Qur’an with holes drilled through it as a visual aid when engaging with Muslims at Speakers’ Corner. I have explained before that this reminds the Muslims there that one of their leading apologists admitted that the Muslim narrative about the origins of the Qur’an “has holes in it”. 

This is provocative, to be sure, but is provocation not allowed in free societies? Provocation can be a powerful tool of evangelists. Hatun says that one person actually travelled to Speakers’ Corner from Malaysia to ask her about what she was saying, and he later rejected Islam. Let’s remember too that Jesus was pretty provocative at times (Matthew 23).

Just minutes after her arrest, one Muslim was brazen enough to put out a video of himself holding Hatun’s Qur’an. He was therefore handling stolen goods. He has not been arrested or even questioned by police to my knowledge. 

Meanwhile Hatun was forcibly removed from Speakers’ Corner with her arms held behind her back and with Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar!” Her property was left unattended at Speakers’ Corner where it could have been stolen. The police will usually take a suspect’s belongings with them when they are arrested — but not in the case of Hatun. Remarkably, Hatun was arrested on suspicion of having committed an offence of Criminal Damage. This is quite ironic as Hatun had not damaged anyone else’s property, but rather suffered the theft of her own. It was a most ridiculous charge.

While she was being removed from the scene, an attempt was made to assault Hatun by throwing something at her head. You can watch this incident here. No attempt was made by the police to arrest or apprehend the person who attempted to assault her.

None of her assailants have ever been arrested

Hatun was taken to a police van where the police further arrested her for an offence contrary to section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. She was then transported to Charing Cross police station where she was strip-searched — a completely unnecessary humiliation. She also had her glasses removed from her meaning that she could not read. When Hatun has been unlawfully arrested before, she has requested a copy of a Bible and spent time reading it. This time she could not do that as the police refused to give her her glasses.

Hatun was then questioned at 4:00am and arrested again, this time for offences contrary to section 18 of the Public Order Act 1986. During the questioning she was told that someone had complained about her T-Shirt which displays one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammad. The police asked her: “Are you not aware that that might offend someone?” Of course, she is! She is being deliberately provocative in order to challenge the Muslims about their faith. She is doing this in “the home of free speech”. 

Finally, after 15 hours in a prison cell, deprived of her glasses and her clothes, Hatun was released without charge on Monday morning. Her clothes and glasses were returned to her. Never intimidated or cowed, Hatun was back in action at Speakers’ Corner the following Sunday, once again challenging the Muslims who attended and preaching the gospel.

This is not the first time Hatun has been arrested at Speakers’ Corner, and later released without charge. Each time the Muslims were delighted, shouting “Allahu Akbar!” Hatun has also been assaulted at Speakers’ Corner several times. She has been hit, dragged to the floor, had her glasses broken and books stolen from her. None of her assailants have ever been arrested or even cautioned.

When Hatun was brutally stabbed at Speakers’ Corner in July last year, she required hospital treatment. Her attacker has still not been arrested, though his identity is known to regular attendees at Speakers’ Corner. 

Why is it that Hatun keeps getting arrested, for committing no crime, while those who commit actual crimes are not apprehended by the police? The police are meant to carry out their duties “without fear or favour”. At Speakers’ Corner the actions of the police betray both fear and favour. It may not be against the law to display images or visual aids mocking Islam, but the police will arrest you anyway, and hold you overnight for your trouble. Meanwhile, if you assault a Christian preacher or steal from them, the police will turn a blind eye. 

Don’t insult Mohammed, it seems, or the police will come for you. Is this Britain or Saudi Arabia?

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