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Britain First deputy hurled abuse at woman for wearing hijab, court told

Published 02/11/2016

The Muslim woman was wearing a hijab
The Muslim woman was wearing a hijab

The deputy leader of far-right group Britain First hurled abuse at a Muslim woman for wearing a hijab while brandishing a white cross in front of her four young children, a court has heard.

Jayda Fransen, 30, is alleged to have shouted at Sumayyah Sharpe during a Britain First "patrol" of Bury Park in Luton at around 1pm on Saturday January 23.

Fransen is accused of telling Ms Sharpe that Muslim men force women to cover up to avoid them being raped "because they cannot control their urges", Luton and Bedfordshire Magistrates' Court heard.

Prosecutor Kirsty Allman said Ms Sharpe was shopping with her children when she noticed members of the group handing out Britain First newspapers which had a front page reading "W orld War Three has begun - Islam against the world".

Ms Sharpe said she refused the newspaper, telling the group it represented "everything against me and what I believe in".

She said it was at this point that Fransen, from South Norwood, south London, crossed the road and confronted her. The incident was captured by on camera by members of Britain First.

Ms Sharpe told the court: "She came across, shouting at me, saying 'Why are you covered?', and she said that quite a few times. I told her it was my choice that I cover.

"I then turned to the camera and I said, 'Film me, I'm British, I'm a British Muslim. It's my choice to wear this clothing and it's my right'."

She added: "I called her a slapper, I admit, and I told her to piss off because I was so angry at that point that she had done that in front of my children."

In the video footage shown to the court, Fransen could be heard shouting "Your men say you have to cover yourself to avoid you being raped" and "You are being hidden because your men cannot control their urges".

Ms Allman said Fransen also told Ms Sharpe: "That's why they are coming to my country and raping women."

Ms Sharpe said she later had to explain to her children what rape was, and that her four-year-old son was scared to leave the house in case they ran into the group again.

Reflecting on her feelings following the incident, she said: "I did cry a little bit but it was more because I did not believe that British people could act like this, really."

Fransen, who was elected deputy leader of Britain First in autumn 2014, denies one charge of religiously aggravated assault, one count of failure to surrender to police bail and one count of wearing a political uniform.

Defence lawyer Neil Guest argued that Ms Sharpe also made offensive comments as part of the exchange.

He alleged Ms Sharpe told Fransen: "Scum. Scum of the earth. Scum of the earth, look up your history then come find me."

In cross-examination, she admitted saying Fransen was hanging around "dirty men".

Mr Guest suggested Ms Sharpe had been "a little more abusive" then she first thought.

"What I'm suggesting to you, quite simply, is that on that day you were looking for confrontation because of your beliefs," he said.

The court was also shown a Britain First YouTube video showing the patrol in Luton on the date of the alleged harassment.

Fransen could be heard shouting to passers-by: "This is a British town and we are proud to be British."

In another exchange in the video, she said: "It's a Christian country. Yes it is. This is a Christian country."

The case was adjourned and will continue on Thursday, when Fransen is expected to give evidence.

Press Association

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