BNP ‘Qur’an man’ to stand in elections

A BNP member accused of burning a copy of the Qur’an will still stand in the Welsh Assembly elections, his party has confirmed.

Sion Owens, 41, of Bonymaen, Swansea, had a charge against him dropped today – but was told by magistrates legal proceedings may resume after further investigations. Owens was arrested last weekend after The Observer newspaper reportedly handed police a video, which appeared to show Mr Owens dousing a copy of the Qur’an with paraffin before setting it alight.

The alleged incident drew widespread condemnation from political and ethnic groups in Wales – who are urging voters to shun the far-right BNP in the May 5 poll. Owens is third on the list out of four candidates the BNP is putting up for the South Wales West regional seat.

Plaid Cymru described the alleged incident as appalling but “hardly surprising”. A party spokeswoman said: “Our advice to the electorate of Wales is to ignore their call for race hate as we have always done, ensure they lose their election deposits and above all quickly recycle their leaflets – as that is all they are good for.”

The BNP issued a 2,000 plus word statement on its website in response to Owens’ court appearance, complaining of “hypocrisy” by the authorities. A party spokesman said Owens would continue to stand as a candidate in the Welsh Assembly elections.

BNP leader Nick Griffin added: “The British National Party does not favour burning any book, although if there is any repeat of last year’s Poppy burning insult and subsequent lack of police action, we may well review that position.” He also said the BNP favoured freedom of speech – saying there needed to be a “resistance to the intimidation” encouraged by Muslim extremists.

However, Swansea Bay Racial Equality Council countered the claims, saying the BNP had abused that democratic right. Chief executive Taha Idris said: “While people have freedom of speech and freedom of action in the UK, it is a privilege that should never be abused.”

Asian Image, 11 April 2011