London, England, Jul 29, 2019 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- A Christian pastor has been compensated for a wrongful arrest after London police detained the man while preaching on the street earlier this year.
Oluwole Ilesanmi, 64, has been awarded over $3,000 (£2,500) by Scotland Yard for humiliating treatment, according to the Daily Mail.
Ilesanmi moved to London in 2010 as a protestant missionary from Nigeria. He had been preaching in February at a train station in North London where he had been accused of “Islamophobia.”
Two police officers approached the Ilesanmi and asked him to stop preaching. When he refused, they confiscated the preacher’s Bible, handcuffed him, and dropped him off four miles away. He had to borrow money from a stranger to return home.
“No one wants to hear that. They want you to go away,” said one of the police officers to Ilesanmi in a video taken of the incident.
“You should’ve thought about that before being racist,” said the other policeman after Ilesanmi expresses distress when his Bible is taken away.
Ilesanmi said, at the time of his arrest, that he had expressed disagreement with the Islamic faith, but he did not engage in discrimination. He said the incident is an issue of free speech.
“I believe God loves everyone, including Muslims, but I have the right to say I that I don’t agree with Islam – we are living in a Christian country, after all,” he said, according to Daily Mail.
“I was upset when they took away my Bible. They just threw it in the police car. They would never have done that if it had been the Koran. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?”
Ambrosine Shitrit, the woman who filmed the incident, told the Daily Mail that the preacher “was not breaching the peace and in no way had he been Islamophobic.”
A petition for the protection of street preachers has received 38,000 signatures and will be delivered to members of the government this week.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman defended the treatment of Ilesanmi, saying, according to the Daily Mail, that while the police respect free speech, “if the language someone uses is perceived as being a potential hate crime, it is only right that we investigate. In this case, it was deemed appropriate to remove the man from the area.”