Grimsby EDL supporter convicted of religiously aggravated threatening behaviour – Muslim defence lawyer launches attack on media

A Grimsby solicitor has launched a scathing attack on the media and politicians for “inflaming” hostility towards Muslims after the brutal murder soldier Lee Rigby in London. Ghaff Khan strongly criticised the use of words like “Islamists” and “Islamic – and claimed that comments over people’s origins were not used when “other heinous crimes” were committed by non-Muslims.

He launched his broadside during a court case which featured mentions of the Grimsby mosque at the centre of an arson attack and references to the English Defence League. Christopher Rodger, 25, of Lime Street, Grimsby, admitted using religiously aggravated threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour on June 8.

Mr Khan, who recently joined Grimsby firm Michael Culshaw & Co, told the court he felt very strongly about the matter and said: “I don’t want to stand on my soap box.”

He told Grimsby magistrates that he was an “Afghan-born Muslim” who had lived in this country for “many, many years”. He said: “I personally think that the media and politicians of all parties do inflame the situation by using words such as ‘Islamists’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalists’ when there is a person of that persuasion involved.”

He claimed that Muslims were “peace-loving, God-fearing people” who abide by the law of the lands in whichever country they lived. Mr Khan said he believed that “ignorance” of these factors played into the hands of others. When “other heinous crimes” were committed by non-Muslims, people did not hear about their origins in the same way, he added.

He again told the court: “I don’t want to stand on my soap box too long.” Presiding magistrate Rhieta Prowle told him that she would not let him do so.

Nick Wyman, prosecuting, said Rodger approached police in High Street, Cleethorpes, late at night and told them: “Why are you lot still patrolling the mosque? They bomb our churches and you lot defend them. It’s wrong.”

This did not excuse what Rodger did by using the language he did, said Mr Khan. He was aggressive and was “told to keep his extreme opinions to himself” but later said: “Shouldn’t you be standing outside the mosque or something? Why aren’t you guarding a mosque? You are there 24 hours a day. It’s disgusting. You wouldn’t be stopping me if I was a Muslim or wearing a burqa. This is England. EDL. EDL.”

Rodger was accompanied in court by a male supporter wearing an English Defence League T-shirt.

Mr Khan, mitigating, said Rodger had drunk about 15 pints of beer, regretted his actions and had shown remorse. It was “drunken stupidity” that included the use of racially aggravated language. It arose after the “awful murder” of soldier Lee Rigby, who was stabbed in Woolwich. The comments made by Rodger were aimed at the police who ought to be of “reasonable firmness”, said Mr Khan.

Unemployed Rodger was fined £110 and ordered to pay £85 costs and a Government-imposed £20 victims’ surcharge.

Grimsby Telegraph, 2 July 2013