Daily Mail (UK), September 29, 2006
A furious row has erupted after it emerged that a notorious preacher will not be prosecuted for issuing a death threat to Pope Benedict over his remarks about Islam.
During an organised demonstration, Muslim radical Anjem Choudary said that anyone who insulted Prophet Mohammed would be ‘subject to capital punishment’.
He made his remarks in a TV interview while protesting at the rally.
The protest took place outside the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral at the height of the furore over the Pope’s quoting of a 14th century emperor who said the Prophet brought ‘things only evil and inhuman’.
Police received about 25 complaints about the protest which left members of the central London Cathedral’s congregation ‘upset’ and ‘intimidated’.
But Scotland Yard has concluded that ‘no substantive offences’ were committed on September 17.
The force has also decided that lawyer Choudary’s comments, which actually came in a media interview rather, did not constitute an offence.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told the Metropolitan Police Authority his officers were trying to ‘hold the line of free speech’ in an ‘angry time’.
“The Met can only police the law as it stands,” he said.
“No substantive offences were discovered during that demonstration.
“The remarks by one person that were widely printed in the media did not take place at the demonstration.”
David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouth, who demanded action against Choudary, said: “My reaction is that it is quite disgraceful that Sir Ian Blair is not taking action over this.
“It sends out a message to Muslim extremists across the world that we, as a country, do not have the moral courage to stand up to them.
“They are likely to become more and more outspoken because it is apparent that we do not have the courage to stand up to them.”
Rachel Whittaker, a Tory member of the MPA, had earlier described in the meeting how members of the congregation ‘felt intimidated’ and ‘were upset’ by the protest.
Others even felt ‘threatened’ she said, describing the demonstration as: “An appalling misuse of the freedom of speech”.
However, Sir Ian said: “The Cathedral authorities expressed complete satisfaction with the police operation.
“We are living in an angry time. It is the job of the Metropolitan Police to hold the line of free speech and it is a difficult line to hold.
“But in this particular case I am satisfied there were no offences committed by anybody.’ However Sir Ian’s comments have sparked further confusion.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said that its lawyers were still reviewing TV footage from the day of the demo — leaving the door open for a prosecution.
About 100 Muslim demonstrators took part in the protest . Slogans on display included ‘Pope go to hell’ and ‘May Allah Curse The Pope’.
In the wake of the protest, Scotland Yard’s Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, announced that officers would look to see if any criminal offences had been committed.
Scotland Yard officers also carried out an investigation after a demonstration outside the Danish embassy earlier this year over the controversial Muslim cartoons.
On that occasion, Choudary was fined £500 for failing to give police proper notice before the protest march in February. Other participants are awaiting trial.