Prosecutors in the U.K. have decided to drop charges against a Nigerian pastor who was accused of using “threatening and abusive language” in London earlier this year for preaching a sermon that linked terrorism to Islam.
Pastor Oluwole Ilesanmi, 62, was charged with a hate crime over a sermon he preached in June in which he insisted that there was a connection between terrorism and Islam.
A Muslim and two political activists reportedly complained about the pastor’s sermon and accused him of preaching lies and being Islamophobic. Ilesanmi responded by saying that the Bible speaks the only truth and that “people need to give their lives to the Lord Jesus.”
He was then arrested and charged by police under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which prohibits the use of “threatening or abusive words or … disorderly behavior.”
The Christian Legal Centre’s allied solicitor, Michael Phillips, argued on Ilesanmi’s behalf that U.K. law provides the pastor with freedom of speech to preach the Christian message and that this liberty has been upheld by courts. Crown Prosecution Services eventually decided to drop the charges prior to the trial, according to Premier.
“I am in the United Kingdom to bring back the true message of the gospel that Christians many years ago brought to Nigeria. I have seen firsthand what sadly many Christians have suffered in Nigeria firsthand. It is ironic that I was accused of exactly what the Muslims are doing in my country and so many other countries around the world,” Ilesanmi said.
“When will the UK wake up and realise that submission to Islam is not the answer, that only the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer to the UK’s problems?” he went on to say.
Ilesanmi maintained that he is not a hate preacher, adding that “the most loving thing that a preacher can do is tell people the truth.”
Christian Legal Center Chief Executive Andrea Williams has accused the police of appearing not to understand that street preachers are protected under the law, and she has urged the authorities to “educate their officers so that innocent Christians don’t continue to be arrested.”
Earlier this year, another street preacher in the U.K. was convicted of using “threatening and discriminatory language” while he was preaching to Muslims in Lincoln.
Daniel Courney, an American missionary who served in the United States military and has been a missionary in Nepal and India for eight years, was arrested after he was accused of calling a Muslim woman “ISIS,” and telling her to “go back to your country.”
He was convicted by Lincoln Magistrates Court in September, but a Crown Court judge overturned the ruling earlier this month.
In another case, street preachers Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell were found guilty in February of violating the Crime and Disorder Act for saying Muslims are going to Hell and Jesus is the only way to God.
During the trial, prosecutor Ian Jackson argued that what they were preaching “cannot be truth” and contended that some contents of the Bible are not acceptable for modern times.
Overd and Stockwell appealed the case, and the appeals court subsequently ruled that the prosecution could not provide sufficient proof that the two preachers were motivated by animus toward any people group.