Azhar Ahmed has been convicted of sending a grossly offensive communication. Here is the message, which he posted on his Facebook wall:
”People gassin about the deaths of Soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed [all sic].
”The women who have been raped. The children who have been sliced up!
”Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmful [sic] familys [sic].”
”All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE F****N SCUM!
”gotta problem. go cry at your soldiers grave and wish him hell because thats where he is going.”
This is a troubling verdict, and Robert Sharp makes some good points about it over on Liberal Conspiracy. He points out that Ahmed did not target his post at anyone with a view to hurt them – nor did he focus on specific soldiers. He goes on to argue:
Wishing for someone to die is also unpleasant, but it is not the same as a death threat. If it were, then thousands of Trades Unionists would surely have been prosecuted for wishing death and Hell upon Margaret Thatcher!
(Recently sick t-shirts reveling in the prospect of Thatcher’s death were sold at the TUC Congress.)
I don’t know whether or not this represents anti-Muslim bigotry, whether Ahmed was scrutinised differently because of his religion, whether his words perhaps seemed to have more of an edge than the same words would have done coming from a white Wolfie Smith type. The original charges included “racially aggravated public order offences” – this charge, at least, was withdrawn, but does help explain why some have suspected that Ahmed was being targeted because of his religion. A man who was mistaken for Ahmed had to be offered police protection following death threats, and Ahmed himself has been the target of countless violent and threatening tweets which seem rather more worthy of police attention (though quite possibly still not a priority) than Ahmed’s own comments.