Pastor McConnell pleads not guilty on malicious communication charge



Joe Rice
Joe Rice of John J Rice & Co.

Pastor James McConnell has pleaded not guilty to charges under the Communications Act 2003 relating to his controversial sermon on Islam.

The charge relates to a speech broadcast over the Internet in which the pastor describes Islam as “satanic”, “heathen” and “spawned in hell”.

His solicitor, Joe Rice of John J Rice & Co., told Belfast Magistrates Court today that Pastor McConnell was contesting the charges.

He also told District Judge Amanda Henderson that he would lodge an abuse of process application in an attempt to have the case dismissed.

Mr Rice said the charges were “bizarre and peculiar”, adding: “The Pastor has waited a long time for this to come to court. He did not incite hatred or encourage violence against Muslims.

“He expressed views about another religion, not in a personalised manner but in a generalised way.

“He has every right to criticise Islam, as Islamic clerics have the right to entice him. This is a principled stance that the pastor has taken.”

The case will resume on 3 September.