A MUSLIM protester who daubed a war memorial with graffiti glorifying Osama Bin Laden and proclaiming “Islam will dominate the world” walked free from court after prosecutors ruled his actions were not motivated by religion.
Tohseef Shah, 21, could have faced a tougher sentence if the court had accepted that the grafittiÂ – which included a threat to kill the Prime MinisterÂ – were inspired by religious hatred.
ButÂ -Â citing a loophole in the lawÂ -Â the Crown Prosecution Service chose not to charge him with that offence and he escaped with only a two-year conditional discharge and an order to pay the council Â£500 compensation after admitting causing criminal damage.
Yesterday the decision was attacked by politicians and veterans who were shocked by the desecration of the memorial in Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire.
According to this report,Tory MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the Parliamentary Counter Terrorism sub-committee, said:
This is an outrage against our war dead.
Shah sprayed the words “Islam will dominate the worldÂ -Â OsamaÂ is on his way” and ‘Kill Gordon Brown’ on the plinth of the memorial in December.
He was arrested after his DNA was found on the discarded spray-can but refused to give an explanation for his actions or show any remorse, a court heard.
A file was sent to lawyers at the Counter Terrorism Division of the CPS in London to see if there was a racially or religiously motivated connotation.
However when Shah appeared before magistrates this week, prosecutor Andrew Bodger said:
It was decided there was not enough evidence to prove this, and they decided it was politically motivated.
Defending, Mumtaz Chaudry said Shah did not hold extremist views.
This is nothing to do with his religious beliefs, his family’s beliefs or his cultural beliefs. He is just an ordinary guy.Â He is remorseful, but at the time of his interview he was simply answering questions and didn’t realise that was the right time to show remorse.
Local veterans reacted with horror last night. Roy Whenman, 78, who fought in the Korean War, said:
If what he wrote on the memorial wasn’t evidence of racial or religious hatred then what is? The memorial commemorates people of my generation who died for our freedom as well as those fighting in wars today. Â It’s diabolical that someone could deface it in this way.
Community leaders among Burton- upon-Trent’s 4,000-strong Muslim population also slammed Shah’s actions.
Khadim Thathall, a former president of a mosque in the town, said:
This young man has clearly been radicalised by groups which are looking to cause trouble and it’s a pity that the court hasn’t been able to deal with him more strictly.
ShahÂ -Â believed to be a former student of De Montfort University in LeicesterÂ -Â usedÂ a photograph of a flaming lion’s headÂ superimposed on crossed Kalashnikov rifles on his Facebook profileÂ which was deactived earlier today.
But the social networking site now has a group demanding that Shah be jailed then deported “to a more suitable country”.
Shah lives with his parents in a Â£200,000 detached house and works at his father’s car spares shop. Last night, he refused to discuss the case.
Instead he appointed Abdullah Ibn Abbas, who described himself as spiritual leader of a group called Road to Jannah, to speak on his behalf.
It really doesn’t concern us how the British people feel about the graffiti he wroteÂ -Â the real outrage should be about the thousands of Muslims who are being killed and butchered as a result of British foreign policy.
The CPS said Shah’s offence could not be charged as a hate crime because the law requires that damage must target a particular religious or racial group.
While it was appreciated that what was sprayed on the memorial may have been perceived by some to be part of a racial or religious incident, no racial or religious group can be shown to have been targeted.
Update: May 2, 2010: The little creep appears to have resurfaced on Facebook here.
Hat tip: barrieJohn