We recently reported that the Birmingham Magistrates' Court was to give its verdict on a case of whether or not Tim Burton, Radio Officer of the British party Liberty GB, caused “racially aggravated harassment” against prominent Muslim activist Fiyaz Mughal by publishing three tweeter posts.
Mughal is the director of the “Tell Mama” project that used to receive £214,000 government fund for monitoring and reporting anti-Muslim attacks in the UK. Tell Mama’s funding was discontinued after The Telegraph exposed Mughal of exaggerating anti-Muslim attacks following the killing of British soldier Lee Rigby in a London street by Jihadists.
After the exposure of Mughal, Burton’s wrote in a tweet: “I wish to report Fiyaz Mughal for being a mendacious, grievance-mongering little Muslim scumbag & I want my £214,000 back now”.
The other two tweeters were of similar tone, calling Mughal a “taqiyya-artist”.
District Judge Ian Strongman heard Mughal’s case against Burton on April 8 that lasted the whole day. Mughal, presenting himself as a witness via a video link, repeatedly claimed that the tweets made him feel “intimidated” and “targeted for his Muslim faith”. On cross-examination, it was revealed that he did not know the meaning of the word “mendacious”, one of the insulting remarks that provoked the trial.
Next, taking the witness stand, defendant Tim Burton said that his tweets, although in retrospect intemperate, were not intended nor expected to generate distress or anguish in someone like Tell Mama’s director, whose job is to search for and read online posts of such kind.
He added that the tweets were a political expression of outrage at the abuse of public money and the encroachment of Islam into British society.
Dutch scholar of Islam Professor Hans Jansen presented his evidence as expert witness on the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya. He explained that the doctrine of taqiyya is accepted by all Muslim theologians and Quran commentaries, and rejected the prosecution’s and Mr Mughal’s theory that this applies to behaviors only among minority Shia Muslims in the face of persecution by majority Sunni Muslims, or that it is just used by far-right groups to victimise Muslims.
Judge Strongman, who had read some of Professor Jansen’s writings on Islam before the trial, seemed to find the Professor’s arguments persuasive.
He concluded that Burton had a right to free expression and his tweets sent to Tell Mama, which were critical of Mughal and his organization, did not cause harassment to him.
Burton was acquitted on all charges.