February 24, 2003


A Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, was today convicted of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred, in the first prosecution of its kind in Britain.

The Old Bailey jury found El-Faisal guilty of three charges relating to inciting racial hatred as well as three charges of soliciting murder. He was remanded in custody for sentencing on March 7.

El-Faisal had denied five charges of soliciting the murder of non-believers, Jews, Americans and Hindus, and four charges relating to inciting racial hatred.

The ground-breaking trial was the first prosecution of a Muslim cleric in Britain. It was also the first time potential jurors were banned from sitting on the jury because of their religion. The judge agreed to a defence plea not to allow Jewish and Hindu jurors – but in the end none came forward.

This last seems a bit much — it’s like the state engaging in the kind of discrimination the defendant is accused of. Isn’t it?

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