Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

Muslim protester denies plan to upset Luton parade

Seven men on trial
The seven men on trial have denied the charges against them

A Muslim protester accused of calling soldiers murderers at a parade claims he did not intend to upset anyone.

Munim Abdul told Luton magistrates he did not expect to cause offence because his group had spoken "the truth".

Seven men deny using threatening, abusive or insulting words and behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress.

A video of them calling troops "murderers" and "terrorists" has been played in court.

Their protest was made as the Royal Anglian Regiment marched through Luton town centre on 10 March last year.

The other six defendants are: Jalal Ahmed, 21; Yousaf Bashir, 29; Ibrahim Anderson, 32; Jubair Ahmed, 19; Ziaur Rahman, 32; and Shajjadar Choudhury, 31. All the men live in Luton.

It's like calling a paedophile a paedophile, that's what he is
Munim Abdul

Mr Abdul, 29, said his group had protested at a parade a year earlier and there had been no problems.

But he did admit to being told the group should not have demonstrated.

"We chose our words carefully. We did not intend to distress or alarm anyone," he said.

"We meant they are killing people when there is no justification for killing them. The war was illegal. Anyone that kills was a murderer.

"We are not judging an individual, we are judging the armed forces as an entity."

Backlash from crowd

Mr Abdul said that his group had always obeyed the instructions given to them by the police.

Neil Mercer, defending him, asked: "Did you think that your placards or the slogans you were shouting might be offensive?"

"If it's the truth, no, and it's the truth," Mr Abdul replied.

Describing the backlash among people watching the parade, he said: "One old lady, about 70 to 80 years old, was saying the most offensive things. I don't want to repeat them.

"I said: 'Calm down, don't speak like that'. She carried on so I said: 'Do you speak like that to your grandchildren?'"

Prosecutor Avirup Chaudhuri suggested Mr Abdul used the words to insult and abuse people and was aware that they would have that effect.

But Mr Abdul said he completely disagreed. He said: "If it's the truth then there's no way they would find it upsetting.

"It's like calling a paedophile a paedophile, that's what he is."

The trial was adjourned to Monday, when defence speeches will continue and the judge is expected to give her judgment.

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