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Irish Preacher Faces Court Trial for Calling Islam 'Satanic'

James McConnell from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, is an evangelical preacher who is being prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act after saying "Islam is heathen. Islam is satanic."

The 78-year-old made his speech from the pulpit of the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast in March 2014. At Belfast Magistrates, a DVD of the complete may 2014 service, including prayers, scripture reading and hymm singing was played for the court.

The judge, who also had a transcript, said, "I know it is a church sermon. Do I have to listen to three sets of singing?"

There were around 100 born-again Christian supporters who packed the public gallery. The judge accepted the argument from McConnell's defense team that it was critical to watch the entire DVD.

In his opening statement, prosecutor David Russell said, "He (McConnell) characterizes the followers of an entire religion in a stereotypical way. And that's grossly offensive and that's not protected from saying it from a pulpit. It has nothing to do with religion or freedom of expression of his freedom to preach." Mr. Russell added, "He is unrepentant."

McConnell denies the charges and told police that he did not intend to offend.

Photo: Belfast Telegraph, Newsletter

Preacher on trial for controversial comments made.

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