Pastor’s anti-Islam comments probed as possible hate crime

Pastor James McConnell
Pastor James McConnell

Police have confirmed they are investigating a hate crime motive after a controversial pastor made a sermon in which he said Islam is satanic.

Pastor James McConnell told a congregation at Whitewell Tabernacle Metropolitan Church on Sunday that he did not trust Muslims.

“People say there are good Muslims in Britain — that may be so — but I don’t trust them,” he said.

“Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell”.

Speaking on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan show on Wednesday the Pastor said he stood by his comments, adding that he was raising awareness of the plight of a 27 year-old woman in Sudan who has been sentenced to death for being a Christian and marrying a Christian man, which is illegal in Sharia law as her father was a Muslim.

Reaction on Twitter saw members of the public describe the Pastor’s words as “shameful”.

“Recent conversations about what ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ looks like in NI today are not helped by Pastor James McConnell recent comments,” said one, while another said: “Pastor James McConnell should reflect deeply on what he is saying today. Perpetuating intolerance and bigotry. Shameful.”

Police said they are aware of an incident at premises at the Shore Road on Sunday.

A spokesman said: “Enquiries are continuing and at this stage, police are investigating a hate crime motive.”