Northern Ireland

Pastor James McConnell faces prosecution over Islam sermon streaming

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Media captionPastor James McConnell was interviewed by police about a sermon he delivered in May last year

A north Belfast pastor who called Islam "heathen" and "satanic" in a sermon is to be prosecuted for streaming his remarks on the internet.

Pastor James McConnell from the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle was questioned by police following his remarks in May last year.

The evangelical preacher issued a public apology for any offence caused.

The Public Prosecution Service said as he had refused to accept an informed warning, he would be brought to court.

While an informed warning is not a conviction, it is recorded on a person's criminal record for 12 months.

Anyone who refuses to accept it can be prosecuted.

A Public Prosecution Service spokesperson said that after considering a complaint about "an internet broadcast of a sermon", it had decided to "offer an individual an informed warning for an offence contrary to the Communications Act 2003".

"That offence was one of sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive," they said.

"The offer of an informed warning was refused by the defendant and accordingly the matter is now proceeding by way of a summary prosecution in the magistrates court."

After Mr McConnell was questioned by detectives, his solicitor read a statement outside the police station in which the pastor apologised for any offence caused.

In the row that followed Mr McConnell's comments, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson told the Irish News that he would not trust Muslims involved in violence or those devoted to Sharia law.

Mr Robinson later said his remarks had been misinterpreted, and met Muslim leaders in Belfast to apologise.

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