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Guilty? It's a badge of honour say Muslim hate mob (and because we're on benefits, the state will pay our costs)|
By Lucy Ballinger and Dan Newling. Last updated at 9:19 AM on 12th January 2010
A group of Muslim extremists who screamed 'rapists' and 'murderers' at British soldiers went unpunished yesterday - and called their conviction 'a badge of honour'.
The five were given conditional discharges for shouting 'baby killers' and 'terrorists' and waving placards at hundreds of soldiers returning from Iraq.
Outside court they were surrounded by a mob of supporters and boasted they would do the same again, saying they wanted to see sharia law in Britain.
The men, all of whom are on benefits, were each ordered to pay £500 in costs towards the prosecution. Outside the court, they defiantly declared: 'The taxpayer paid for this court case. The taxpayer will pay for the fines too out of benefits'.
Surrounded by other followers of Islam4UK - the group led by so-called preacher of hate Anjem Choudary - they said they would protest again.
Their backers waved a banner saying: 'Islam will dominate the world. Freedom can go to hell'.
Some of the group members were linked to an egg attack on Tory peer Baroness Warsi when she visited Luton two months ago.
The peer - who was hit by at least one of the eggs - faced a group of shouting protesters telling her that she was not a proper Muslim. No one was charged.
During their six-day trial, the men argued they were exercising their right to freedom of speech and had been telling the truth about the conduct of British forces in Iraq.
They were part of a demonstration against the 2nd Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, who were marching through Luton after returning from Iraq.
The protest sparked a hostile stand-off with angry members of the public who had been cheering the soldiers.
Yesterday at Luton Magistrates' Court, five of the group were found guilty of using threatening, abusive, insulting words and behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to others.
They were Sajjadar Choudhury, 31, Munin Abdul, 28, Jalal Ahmed, 21, Yousaf Bashir, 29, and Ziaur Rahman, 32, all from Luton. Two others were acquitted.
Although the offence carries a maximum fine of £1,000, the five were merely given a conditional discharge for two years by District Judge Carolyn Mellanby, which means if they are found guilty of anything else this conviction will be taken into account.
The protesters had refused to stand for the judge as she entered and left court. But she yesterday said she did not wish to 'set a precedent' by charging them with contempt of court because of this.
After the trial Munin Abdul, who was found to have called the soldiers 'terrorists and murderers' and said they would 'burn in hell', said: 'We won't stop speaking the truth, even if they think they have made an example of us.
'This case was political, and we have been made scapegoats to pacify the public. We knew we were being offered as sacrificial lambs. But I see our convictions as a reason for us to carry on in our calling.
'This will not put anyone off doing it again. We will not stop until the British troops stop fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
'They will continue to fine us, but we will continue to protest. We are proud to get fined, we are proud to get sent to jail.'
Lawyers defending the men said they had discussed their plans to protest with police beforehand, had agreed a time and place, complied with police throughout and officers had not objected at the time to their slogans.
They said this implied consent by the police and to prosecute them retrospectively was not right.
'This case shows the need for Sharia law. British law is not credible. This elaborate six-day trial was a kangaroo court.'
Sayful Islam, 30, a spokesman for Islam4UK, said: 'This isn't going to deter us from protesting. These Muslims will receive the fines, but it is a medal of honour.
District Judge Mellanby rejected the lawyers' argument that their clients were exercising their right to freedom of speech as enshrined in the Human Rights Act.
She said: 'No one has the right to be gratuitously offensive or insulting. It is not just insulting to the soldiers but to the citizens and public of Luton who were out on the streets that day to honour and welcome the soldiers home.'