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Is McConnell trial linked to Merriam Ibrahim case?

Published 05/01/2016

I have been following Pastor James McConnell's trial, courtesy of your website, but it was only recently that it occurred to me to wonder whether Pastor McConnell's controversial comments about Islam may in fact have related to the case of Merriam Ibrahim, who is mentioned in the relevant section of the sermon in question, rather than to the Islamic community in Belfast.

As your readers will recall Merriam Ibrahim was imprisoned in the Sudan and sentenced to lashes followed by hanging, due to alleged apostasy from Islam. Her accuser was her brother, who should have been in a position to know that she had in fact been raised as a Christian, so had not converted away from Islam at all.

In my opinion this background makes the questions in the sermon about the trustworthiness of Muslims a lot more understandable. It seems to me that the intense hurt and distress experienced by those members of the Islamic community in Belfast who enjoy listening to Christian sermons regularly might have been avoided with the use of explanatory captions when the material was uploaded to the church's website.

I note with concern the Gatestone Institute's view that the issue may be being used to leverage a land grant for expansion of Islamic Centre facilities (www.gatestoneinstitute.org/6356/ pastor-james-mcconnell-islam), but I trust that the evident integrity of the leadership of the Islamic Centre would preclude any such manoeuvre.

VERITY PINK

London E11

Belfast Telegraph

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