Muslim leader says PSNI ‘doing their job’

Dr Raied Al-Wazzan pictured at the Belfast Islamic Centre in 2014
Dr Raied Al-Wazzan pictured at the Belfast Islamic Centre in 2014

A leading Belfast Muslim says that if Pastor Jim McConnell has broken the law then it is up to the PSNI and public prosecutors to decide whether to prosecute him.

Dr Raied Al-Wazzam was speaking after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) revealed it is prosecuting Pastor Jim McConnell for describing Islam as “Satanic” and “heathen”.

“Well I think this has something to do with the PSNI and they decided to bring notice and bring it to the Public Prosecution Service so to be honest I have nothing to add,” he said.

“If he breaks the law then it is up to the PSNI to prosecute him or not. It is nothing to do with me.”

Asked if he thought judicial discretion or the public interest night have mitigated in the Pastor’s favour, he replied: “Well I am sure they have done their job.

“They have got all the information. I cannot comment on something I don’t have the full picture on.”

In January Dr Al-Wazzan made the headlines when he praised the rule of ISIS in his home city of Mosul.

He said Mosul was “the most peaceful city in the world” adding that “These people are less evil than the Iraqi government”.

ISIS, a radical Islamist group whose tactics include mass brutal killings and abductions of minorities, overran the northern Iraqi city of Mosul last year.

UKIP’s Northern Ireland leader, David McNarry, responded: “I couldn’t believe that at a time when the free world has been rocked by Islamic extremists murdering innocent people in cold blood and mounting a sustained attack on the free press that the leader of Northern Ireland’s Muslims chose to praise ISIS Islamic rule and its programme of radicalisation.”

Dr Al-Wazzan later apologised for those remarks, saying: “I used the wrong words and I apologise for that”.

At the time, Pastor McConnell spoke out publicly to say he did not think the police should either quiz him for his own remarks, nor Dr Al-Wazzan about his comments on ISIS.

Speaking to the News Letter yesterday, Pastor McConnell repeated his assertions.

Dr Al-Wazzan told the News Letter yesterday that he did not believe his comments could in any way be construed as supporting terrorism, adding that the PSNI had not approached him about the remarks.