Belfast Preacher Facing Possible Jail Time
McConnell was charged with two counts, 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 the sermon was streamed online. On the first day of the trial, the court was shown an hour-long DVD recording of the service where the Pastor was recorded, and the judge listened to radio and TV broadcasts in which McConnell defended his comments.
It is not clear if truth is a defense in Ireland for what might be considered defamatory comments. The Pastor did say that he believes if a guilty verdict is returned that there will be a public “uprising.”
Phillip Mateer QC said: “If the pastor was more astute to the watery words to be used to weave our way through difficult areas … it would have put it beyond doubt if he had said there are ‘cells’ of jihadists.”
Speaking to the News Letter on Friday, Mr McConnell said he shared his legal team’s optimism that the verdict will go in his favour, but warned of widespread anger if he is jailed.
“I am willing to go to jail and I am going to stand for what I believe in. If the verdict goes against me – and they do put me in jail – there will be such an uprising in this country.”
However, Mr McConnell said imprisonment was a price he was willing to pay rather than renounce his beliefs.
“I can honestly say I haven’t had one sleepless night over this court case.
“It’s not that I’m an iron man or anything like that, I just have other concerns in my heart,” he said.
“I am concerned about this country and about the way it is going politically, spiritually, every way I am really concerned about it.
“The country is a bigger issue than me – I am just praying for the Lord to guide me at this particular time.
“I have had thousands of emails, over 20,000 of them, plus cards, letters and phone calls. It has been amazing.”
With the overt violence and threatenings emerging from various sects of Islam, it seems inane that magistrates and judges would demand specificity in declaring who in the Islamic world should be subject to condemnation. It is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is also true that a huge percentage of world terrorism of the most barbaric stripe is emerging from a wide range of Islamic groups.
At some point, one must wonder what the foundational beliefs are of a religion or system that engenders such sick and violent acts upon men, women and children throughout the world. Add to that the improbability that if Mr. McConnell had made similar statements about Christianity or Judaism that he would have been charged and jailed.
Muslims of all sects should own up to the huge roll their religion plays in world violence and terrorism and should recognize that criticism of their religion is to be expected when such unpleasant results are issuing forth from their religious tenets.