Victory for street preacher held in cell for 13 hours for sharing love for Muslims and truth of Islam16 August 2017 Issued by: Christian Legal Centre
A Christian street preacher who was arrested on 23 June and held for 13 hours in a police cell, after displaying placards depicting love for Muslims and criticising the ideology of Islam, has this week been informed by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that no charges will be brought against him.
Ian Sleeper was arrested outside Southwark Cathedral under Section 5 Public Order Act 1986, religiously aggravated by section 31 Crime and Disorder Act 1998. He was subsequently released on bail after the CPS could not decide whether to charge him. Strict conditions were imposed preventing him from going into the Southwark Borough.
Having been on bail for 6 weeks, the police have now decided to take no further action against him.
Mr Sleeper has been supported by the Christian Legal Centre throughout.
‘Kick political correctness into the long grass’
Mr Sleeper, owner of the Singleton Tandoori Indian Balti House in Ashford, began taking his placards onto the street in January 2017 after it became clear that his Muslim staff were ignorant of aspects of their own religion.
“After reading the Qur’an and observing the behaviour of my Muslim staff, it became clear that they were not practising much of their religion’s teachings. I found this curious, and, after chatting to them about their belief, I realised this was due to their ignorance of the Quranic verses. They simply do not know what their religion teaches.”
He continued, “Their ignorance is almost on a par with the wider public’s, where the horrors and gross gender inequalities of Islam are not apparent to most people”.
Mr Sleeper began outside the BBC broadcasting house in Central London, with a placard reading “#Love Muslims Hate Islam Time For The Truth”. Following the terror attack on Westminster Bridge this year, he changed location.
Commenting on his motivation for going on the street, Mr Sleeper said: “As Christians we must hate sin, spread the gospel and love God. Through my actions I aim to achieve all three”.
He continued: “My hope is for the world to rid itself of Islam but I feel this can be best done by creating awareness among people of Islamic truth, and I wanted to initiate a shared national conversation about Islam. Society needs to kick political correctness into the long grass and be unafraid to criticise Islam. It was political correctness and an abuse of my rights under the law that got me detained in a police cell for 13 hours”.
‘I love my Muslim neighbour’
Mr Sleeper has never previously been in trouble with the police, and he makes a clear distinction between Muslims and the ideology of Islam.
“I differentiate between Muslims the people and Islam the ideology”, commented Ian. “I love my Muslim neighbour as the Bible commands, and I am friends with all my Muslim staff. But I hate the religion’s ideology. It is not Muslims we should be attacking, it’s Islam. Islam makes Muslims victims with a tight grip that holds them captive to an evil ideology.”
“The majority of people we engage with on the street agree with us. This includes ex-Muslims as well as Muslims. Many Muslims fear that they are unable to speak up against and leave Islam, but I have had the privilege of meeting ex-Muslims on the street, and are often joined by them in my protest.”
Commenting on this week’s decision by the CPS, Mr Sleeper said: “It is reassuring to hear that I have not been charged for seeking to expose the truth about Islam. Truth cannot be taken for granted in our modern world, and so I will be back out on the street soon. Please pray for me and my brothers and sisters in Christ, as we all seek to expose deception and turn people to Christ”.
Freedom to expose Islamic ideology must be guaranteed
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre which is supporting Mr Sleeper commented:
“The fact that the CPS took six weeks to decide whether to charge Mr Sleeper illustrates the authorities’ lack of understanding about how the law applies to street preachers.
“This same lack of awareness is often seen in the police’s conduct, when street preachers are arrested where no violation of the law has occurred. It is clear that additional training is needed to safeguard the fundamental right of freedom of expression, which is foundational to a functioning democracy.
“Throughout the six-week period, Mr Sleeper’s fundamental rights were partially violated by the bail conditions. This is unacceptable, and we will continue to stand by Mr Sleeper as we fight for justice.
“Mr Sleeper made it clear that he was motivated by love, and a desire for his Muslim neighbour and the wider public to understand the truth about the claims of Islam.
“Freedom to speak up and expose this ideology should be guaranteed within a democratic society that prides itself on freedom of expression.”