Pastor James McConnell's Islamic remarks investigated by police

Pastor James McConnell described Islam as "heathen" and "satanic", during an address on Sunday

Police in Northern Ireland have said they are investigating "a hate crime motive" after complaints about remarks about Islam by a Belfast pastor.

James McConnell described Islam as "heathen" and "satanic", during an address at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church on Sunday.

He told his congregation "a new evil had arisen" and "there are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain".

Raied Al-Wazzan, of the Belfast Islamic Centre, said this was irresponsible.

Condemned

Dr Al-Wazzan said he was contacting the police and would hold Pastor McConnell "responsible for any racial attacks on any Muslim in Northern Ireland".

"This is inflammatory language and it definitely is not acceptable," he told the BBC's Nolan Show.

Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Mr McConnell was speaking at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast

"This kind of language is actually increasing the ethnic religious hate crimes."

Dr Al-Wazzan said the Muslim community enjoyed a "good relationship with every faith".

"We never had a problem before," he added.

"This is the first time we hear of such language in Northern Ireland and this is definitely irresponsible and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms."

'IRA cells'

Mr McConnell had told his congregation: "Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell."

He said he agreed with the late MP Enoch Powell, whose 1968 "Rivers of Blood" speech criticised immigration.

"Enoch Powell was a prophet, he called it that blood would flow on the streets and it has happened," he said.

The evangelical Protestant preacher also compared Muslims to the IRA.

"Fifteen years ago Britain was concerned of IRA cells right throughout the nation," he said.

"They done a deal with the IRA because they were frightened of being bombed.

"Today a new evil has arisen. There are cells of Muslims right throughout Britain, can I hear an Amen, right throughout Britain, and this nation is going to enter into a great tribulation, a great trial."

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