Six Tyneside men arrested after Koran-burning jape was posted on YouTube

Six Tyneside men arrested after Koran-burning jape was posted on YouTube September 23, 2010

THE six, all from Gateshead, were arrested after filming themselves apparently burning copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
According to the BBC, police said the men were detained after this video appeared on the internet:
They were arrested on suspicion of inciting racial hatred and released on bail pending further inquiries.
In a joint statement, Northumbria Police and Gateshead Council said:

The kind of behaviour displayed in this video is not representative of our community as a whole.
Our community is one of mutual respect and we continue to work together with community leaders, residents and people of all faiths and beliefs to maintain good community relations.

Two men were arrested on 15 September and a further four yesterday.
Commenting on the arrests in International Business Times, William Dove said:

Islam is a faith and is no more a race than the Catholic Church is. If these men by their ogreish and uncivilised acts can be arrested on such grounds one might think that the likes of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell might get their collars felt for their protests and comments against the Pope and the Catholic Church last week. After all one could argue that Catholics might view the Pope as being almost as holy as the Koran is to Muslims, so why the double standards?These arrests are a deeply disturbing sign and are yet more evidence of the erosion of civil liberties that has occurred in Britain in the last few years.

When Terry Jones in America said he was going to burn the Koran the Muslim world protested and pleaded with the US government to prevent him from doing so. While he did not burn the Koran the government made it quite clear that even if he did he would be within his First Amendment rights to do so.
In Britain however there is no such safeguard and the police have been able to arrest six men for a stupid YouTube video which at the time of writing had only 500 views.

Meanwhile, it has just been announced that a man who set fire to a Koran and left it near the door of a mosque in East Lansing, Michigan, will not be charged with a criminal offence. Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings the Third said there is:

No criminal offense that I can charge under Michigan law.

The Koran burning is said to have resulted in an attack on a Christian church by Muslims in India.
A Muslim group inDetroit had pushed for the incident to be prosecuted as a hate crime.  The unnamed suspect in the case turned himself in to East Lansing police last week.
Hat tip: Steve H

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  • Prime Numbers

    How can this be racial when Islam is not a race? The very Koran itself contains words of hatred against non-believers and homosexuals.

  • Broga

    So these guys get arrested for burning a book. Meanwhile, Ratzinger is here, honoured guest, traffic disrupted, £20 million plus of our taxes spent on him, making destructive and contemptible comments on our society which he wants to make even more unequal, guilty of cover ups of his paedophile priests, refuses to sack culpable bishops and he is free as a bird.
    Could someone please explain?

  • After all one could argue that Catholics might view the Pope as being almost as holy as the Koran is to Muslims, so why the double standards?
    Presumably someone setting the Pope on fire would find themselves of considerable interest to the constabulary.

  • Har Davids

    Don’t the police ever watch the news? Whenever we’ve done Islam some injustice, people in countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are burning people in effigy, or flags and sometimes they burn some churches, if available. And closer to home: I’ve seen some pretty wild slogans at Muslim protests and nobody was arrested, I think.

  • Anonymous

    Islam is not a race!

  • tony e

    Whilst not condoning their stupidity, would extremist muslims shouting hatred at the UK, (whilst living in the UK) have their collars felt as quickly? I think not.

  • Broadsword

    It’s only a book.

  • les

    There be an old saying…’you reap what you sow’…this nation chose to ignore the warnings about Islam (a trojan horse)…and now you see the beginning of that unfold.
    Yes Islam is NOT a race, it is an ideology…therefore charges will be dropped…until next time…
    What about those who shouted abuse to our returning soldiers?? I did not/still do not agree on the war in Iraq/Afghanistan…but heck these guy’s are just following order’s…Why weren’t these people who shouted ‘down’ the troops with offensive word’s and veiled threat’s get cautioned/arrested….guess it would not be PC…
    And what about the Aussie lawyer, who rolled a joint with a page from the Koran and bible…

  • These lads were just having a laugh outside of their local. As others here have pointed out, plod seems to be being particularly dense on this occasion by not realising that Islam isn’t a ‘race’. Our police would appear to have transformed themselves into ‘Stasi-Lite’.
    Is the Islamisation of the UK real or a conspiracy theory? Well, as this demonstrates you can get arrested for burning the Qur’an (which, as it is a book doesn’t feel any pain as it lacks a central nervous system); a significant and increasing number of major catering outlets are selling halal-slaughtered meat to all of their customers, usually without them knowing; Shariah courts are operating in British cities; the state is funding Islamic faith schools; Common Purpose is grooming a cadre of ‘Muslim community leaders’; the Racial and Religious Hatred Act was introduced specifically to appease Muslims; the NUJ instructs its journalists to demonise all who criticise Islamism as being ‘Islamophobic’ (itself a non-existent phenomenon) or ‘far-right’, ‘racist’, etc.
    The police ought to stick to their job: protecting the public from criminals, not turning ordinary people into ‘thought criminals’.

  • chick-a-boom

    I wonder what would have happened if they had burned a bible – nothing, I expect – in fact it would be an interesting experiment to burn a koran, a bible, a torah and a few other books (origin of species? principia mathematica? euclid’s elements?) in different places around the country, to see what happened; chuck in a few flags and effigies for good measure; though I have to say book-burning is not a good thing because all books, even holy ones, are valuable … November 5th, anyone?

  • Don

    ‘These lads were just having a laugh outside of their local.’
    Bullshit. these lads had heard about koran burning and were out to wind up pakis. Not muslims. These lads have not the faintest idea about the koran, do you think they have read it and have reacted? This is Gateshead.
    It is intended to get a reaction,and as such the police are right to see it as a possible breach of the peace (or whatever). Or is it OK to burn crosses in any old neighbourhood, dress up in Nazi regalia and burn a star of David for fun. Legally and morally, I guess I accept that you can. But the police are entitled to take an interest if you are obviously looking to provoke a reaction.

  • definition

    Islam is a contagious form of insanity that deprives its victims of the ability to make a rational distinction between right and wrong.
    If that sounds familiar, it is because it is quoted from Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology. It is the definition of “religion.”

  • rog

    I suspect that it will go to court, but they will be found innocent and the trial will be a PR gift to the bnp/edl.

  • Carasek

    @ Don
    It may seem a tricky issue, for sure, but according to the BBC they were charged with ‘suspicion of inciting racial hatred’. Plainly, this is ridiculous. Perhaps they were trying to wind up ethnic Somalis, or Saudis, or Bengalis, or any other group of people. It seems most likely though, given the timing, that they were copying the American pastor’s threat by doing this on the anniversary of 11th September in the knowledge that it would also annoy local muslims.
    There’s an argument that the police should take an interest, but one suspects that they have rather more important priorities than arresting a bunch of stupid kids on charges that obviously don’t apply and won’t stick, thereby drawing attention to what otherwise had passed un-noticed, while providing succour to racist elements who now feel more victimised by the police pandering to the perceived sensitivity of religious or racial minorities.
    It is hard, and it should be hard, to prove intent with respect to crimes such as incitement to violence or hatred. Even then, if the actors know that one particular group of people will react disproportionately, even violently, to an otherwise merely offensive act, then why should that group’s sensitivity infect the rule of law? However difficult, the reasonableness test should apply to all groups, even fundies. Aside from that, isn’t the point of incitement law more about defending the victims of the hatred from attacks, not the other way around?
    For me, it’s relatively simple when it comes to offending religious or political views. People generally get the right to practice their faith or follow an ideology, in return the rest of us have the right to question, ridicule and offend against those views. Liberal democracies allow people to do things that might have undesirable consequences from time to time, which may include offending people and dealing with their overblown reactions.
    If these kids had burned an effigy of a particular racial type, then we would be in a wholly different area of law and the police would have been right to investigate. Immutable characteristics are deserving of protection in ways that ideologies are not.
    I accept, however, that certain elements (including a certain fascist MEP) are using religion as a cover for racist policies. This problem, I feel, can be tackled in a far more sophisticated manner than by using the blunt instrument of the wrong laws.

  • gsw

    I wish I knew how to design a virus – to spread to all blogs – however, since I don’t I shall just have to continue to write it every time someone claims that islamophobia does not exist.
    Islamophobia is a very real if hard to understand “fear of islamist retaliation” currently suffered by almost all of Europe’s politicians, newpaper editors, police and Media News reporters. With the exception of a few (Wilders, Swedish Democrats, Susanne Winters etc.) the phobia is widespread and it is a very real threat to the rest of us.
    Imagine being forced to breath DDT every day because a politician is afraid of bugs.
    While we continue to vote for cowards who seek to ‘appease’ islamic violence and pander to a supremacist ideology and muslim arrogance, we will continue to suffer from the government’s islamophobia.

  • Newspaniard

    If the police had ignored the burning as a prank, no-one would have found the site on YouTube and nothing more would have been said. Who are the police working for in that area of town the Death Cultists or the whole community? I suspect that the forthcoming cuts, owing to overmanning, can’t come too soon.

  • Angela_K

    Reap what we have sown indeed. The Police and judiciary have been so indoctrinated with political correctness by the last Government that this heavy-handed action is no surprise. Aided by a biased BBC and Press, any criticism of of islam – and recently Ratzi’s visit – are surppressed, and the critics are branded as nazis, racists etc. The muzzies can burn our flags, abuse our troops and ignore our laws safe in the knowledge that are untouchable. That last sentence could apply in part to catholic priests!

  • Great Satan

    The only surprising thing is that no one has done this sooner.
    There is a growing sense of frustration, contempt and anger at the failure of successive governments of right and left to tackle the problems of islamism.
    It is easy for Hampstead liberals to condemn actions such as this from their pc ivory towers, alot of these angry young men live in areas where there are problems with muslim gangs, quite apart from feeling exasperation at watching the slow death of free speech etc from the influence of the islamist lobby.
    Events like this, one suspects, are due to start increasing in the very near future…

  • Hmm this burning of religious trash fiction seems quite popular, I can certainly see the appeal in burning these foul, racist, hatemongering, misogynous, homophobic books. Sadly they will keep printing this shit faster than we could burn them anyway, also keeping these stupid books and ridiculing them for what they are is far more effective than burning them.

  • Brian Jordan

    One report said that the police were working to establish whether the books involved were actually copies of the Koran. If they were, does that make the offense legally more serious? Or is the nature of the books irrelevant in law?
    Meanwhile, let’s not forget Harry Taylor, who got six months suspended for leaving leaflets in an airport chapel.

  • Brian Jordan

    According to the Independent (and also the Telegraph and Guardian)

    Northumbria Police said the men were not arrested for watching or distributing the video, but on suspicion of burning the Koran.

    so it matters very much whether it was a real Koran or not. Meanwhile, the Indy says

    Police arrested six people on suspicion of inciting racial hatred

    whereas AOL news says that the matter, which was being referred to Dominic Grieve, involved incitement to religious hatred. The police evidently finally realising that Islam isn’t a race.

  • Maphisa

    I object to this incident being used as an excuse by some to have a go at Gateshead. Gateshead is one of the best towns on Tyneside – Coatsworth Road is great for shopping.

  • The Woggler

    While I have no problem with burning any book (except old ones), I would prefer people recycle them. However, for anybody proposing to burn books in the future, could I suggest a possible alternative: Simply download them online into PDF onto a computer, then delete the PDF file. It would have the same effect without wastefully burning paper.

  • Carasek

    @The Woggler
    You get my vote for the most amusing post this week… 🙂

  • chrsbol

    The Woggler
    Very funny straight out of the Viz.

  • Stonyground

    There is an interesting take on this at
    The point that they are making seems to be that arresting these guys seems to be a bit like blaming the victim. Some Muslims are inclined to behave like violent psychopaths with minimal provocation so if you provoke them then the resulting violence is your fault.

  • Whilst I find it contemptible that these idiots, (who someone quite rightly stated previously were probably just racist thugs) were not particularly motivated in the act of burning the koran by anything other than offending people, I do actually shudder at the mention of the “inciting racial hatred” law here in Britain. It is an affront to freedom that people can get arrested for burning a bit of paper.

  • valdemar

    Council by-elections have just been held in Gateshead, and the BNP has been out canvassing. The police – in a town, please note, with a very large Orthodox Jewish community, as well as a newer (but small) immigrant community that includes Muslims – are twitchy about anything that smacks of rabble rousing and hate crimes. It may be stupid, but of course if they’d done nothing they’d get stick for it, wouldn’t they?

  • michael

    am I ever glad to be living in a country with a constitution which guarantees freedom of conscience.
    The laws in Britain are positively insane!
    I am a Canadian.

  • Newspaniard

    @Michael. CANADA!! You have kangaroo courts judging “hate speech” where the accused is seldom found “not guilty”; there is no appeal; there is no legal aid. The accused always pays. Don’t get me going! See Mark Steyn, “Lights Out” as an excellent example of your “freedom of conscience” laws.

  • hissing sid

    To me this is proof positive that ww2 was a waste of time, treasure and life. Six pissed up dickheads burn a book for something to do while their mate gets a round in. For a laugh one or more then posts a clip of their ‘high brow’ jape on youtube and the old bill only care because its a quran?
    My grandfathers must be spinning in their urns! Why did they fight the nazis only to have a government of pc nazis suppressing their hiers?

  • The eChurch blog has links on the story here.
    I have to say that I didn’t know until last Thursday that burning your own Koran was illegal. I wonder whether it was, indeed, until last Thursday.
    Btw I am a Christian myself. Burn a bible (so long as you own it) as much as you like. Say whatever you like about us (the establishment are encouraging it, I know, but I still think it is right).
    But when did we get minor unnamed bureaucrats inventing the law? And when did the allegation of inciting an emotion — not violence — become license to interfere with freedom of speech? So broad a law, so useful to a bureaucrat seeking to silence political disagreement, whatever it *purports* to do, must be abolished as incompatible with a free country.

  • desser999

    What would happen if you made yourself a sandwich board but wrote upon it the most horrific of passages straight from the Koran. If you are arrested for hate speech it proves Islam is an offence and the book should be banned. Would confuse the PC brigade..”Who’s side am I on?”. Muslims could not attack you as it’s straight from their book!….I think it would raise some very interesting outcomes….where’s my marker pen I’m off down Oxford Street;)

  • Thornavis.

    I own a Penguin Classics copy of the Koran, I’m sorely tempted to go and burn it right now or maybe I should take it to the local Mosque and ask them to take it off my hands as it’s obviously too precious a thing to belong to an unbeliever. I’ve had about enough of all this nonsense what with Ratzi’s visit, the sustained attack on atheism and now this it’s becoming increasingly obvious that subservience to religion is official policy in this country now, there’s little point in opposing it as most people don’t seem to care, I just hope I’m not around when the worst effects of this become apparent.

  • The Woggler

    I note PZ Myers on his Pharyngula site has taken a different approach. He’s taken his copy into his garden and buried it. It’s now turning to mulch. Brilliant.

  • monoaethiest

    There will be no tolerance of different faiths and cultures in the UK (or anywhere else) until one side stop being so determined to force their views on others and the other side stops being so sychophantic to these minority views and demands. This whole “Quran burning” episode as seen in the North East is inevitable as long as Muslim protestors escape the same treatment for burning flags, bibles and preaching hate. This country is finally starting to reap what it sowed for invading Muslim countries and then ensuring that muslims in this country are exempted from the law. The more press that these (rather pathetic incidents) gets, the more others will follow the example

  • ivan

    @Thornavis I guess your Penguin edition is an English translation. Only ones in Arabic are real ones, so it probably doesn’t count.

  • Epic Stache

    September 11, 2011 is Worldwide Burn a Koran Day.
    On this day people throughout the world will burn Korans.
    Until then, people worldwide will plan to burn Korans,
    they will publicize their intent to burn Korans,
    they will encourage others to burn Korans, and
    they will defend the right of all people to burn Korans.
    Happy Worldwide Burn a Koran Day!