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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 19:08 GMT
Holy book 'no defence'
Abdullah el-Faisal
Abdullah el-Faisal denies circulating race hate tapes
Quoting from the Koran or any holy book is no defence against breaking the law, a judge has warned.

The Common Serjeant of London Peter Beaumont said it depended on the "circumstances in which they are quoted".

He was summing up in the case of Abdullah el-Faisal, of Albert Square, Stratford, east London, who denies five charges of soliciting murder and four charges relating to stirring up racial hatred.

The Old Bailey jury, which is expected to retire on Wednesday, will be given tapes of el-Faisal's talks to decide if his words broke the law.

Different religions

Judge Beaumont told the court, "It does not afford him a defence in law...any more or less than any similar citations from anyone else's holy book, including the Bible, would be."

He went on to say Britain had a multi-ethnic society where different religions were tolerated and the freedom to follow them was protected by law.

But, he added, the freedom had to come with responsibility and the law must be obeyed.

Jerome Lynch, for the defence, said freedom of speech must be defended "to the death".

He said: "It allows us to claim the moral high ground. Otherwise, there is no difference between us and Saddam Hussein."

Mr Lynch also claimed no efforts were made to warn el-Faisal his talks could be offensive but Special Branch visited controversial cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza seven times to discuss his speeches.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday.


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22 Jan 03 | England
22 Jan 03 | England
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