Friday 23 March 2018

Preacher accused of branding Islam 'satanic' and 'heathen' goes on trial in Belfast

Pastor James McConnell
Pastor James McConnell

An evangelical preacher accused of branding Islam "satanic" and "heathen" in an online sermon is going on trial in Belfast.

Pastor James McConnell faces two charges connected to a controversial speech he made from the pulpit of his church in the north of the city last year.

McConnell, 78, from Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, is being prosecuted under the 2003 Communications Act.

He faces two charges - improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network - after remarks made at Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast were streamed online.

The evangelical fundamentalist denies the charges.

Hundreds of Christian supporters have accompanied the veteran churchman to court for pre-trial hearings.

Three days have been set aside for the trial at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Pastor McConnell was in bullish mood as he arrived at Belfast's Laganside court ahead of the start of the trial.

Around 25 supporters gathered at the doors of the court complex, some carrying banners with free speech and pro-Christian messages.

When asked how he was feeling, Mr McConnell said: "It's a good day for a hanging - particularly to hang the prosecution."

Press Association

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