British authorities have agreed to pay a 64-year-old Nigerian street preacher around $3,000 after wrongfully arresting him and confiscating his Bible in an incident earlier this year.
Oluwole Ilesanmi was arrested while preaching in February outside Southgate Tube station in London, England after someone called the police accusing him of engaging in hate speech, which in the United Kingdom can be considered a crime.
Scotland Yard agreed to compensate Ilesanmi for his wrongful arrest and the treatment he received at the hands of the Metropolitan Police.
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented Ilesanmi, said in a statement released last Friday that British law should do a better job of respecting the rights of street preachers.
“… despite laws that theoretically support the freedom to preach in public, in practice, police officers are quick to silence preachers at the first suggestion that a member of the public is offended,” stated Williams, as reported by Christian Concern.
“Freedom of speech means that each one of us needs to be able to critique all religions and ideas without immediately being labelled and silenced as offensive. Critiquing ideas is often motivated by love for others and not hate. The result of this also chills free speech through self-censorship.”
For his part, Ilesanmi stated that he was glad “the police have recognised that it was not right to arrest me for preaching from the Bible.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski