Belfast Telegraph

Jayda Fransen given community service for stirring up Muslim hatred in Belfast speech

Convicted: Jayda Fransen
Convicted: Jayda Fransen

By Alan Erwin

A former deputy leader of far-right group Britain First has been given 180 hours community service for stirring up hatred towards Muslims in Northern Ireland.

Jayda Fransen, 33, was found guilty over a speech she made at a rally in Belfast and separate comments at a peace wall in the city.

District Judge George Conner told her: "I have held the words used were unlawful, and normally I would be considering a custodial sentence for this type of offence.

"I see community service as a direct alternative to that."

Fransen, of Moat Avenue in Donaghadee, Co Down, now intends to appeal her convictions.

She was among four defendants on trial at Belfast Magistrates' Court for their addresses to the 'Northern Ireland Against Terrorism' event in August 2017.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, 37, and two other Englishmen were all acquitted on similar charges.

All four had been charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear.

Demonstrators gathered on the same day as a republican march to mark the introduction of internment without trial at the height of the Troubles in 1971.

Defence lawyers argued each of the accused were entitled to freedom of expression - no matter how offensive their speeches may be.

The court heard during the trial Fransen told those gathered there was no moderate version of Islam, and stated: "These people are baying for our blood."

Claiming the religion represented the biggest threat to civilisation, she went on: "Islam says every single one of you wonderful people here today deserves to be killed."

Those attending the rally were then told it was time for the world to come together against "the one common enemy".

Fransen was convicted over the City Hall speech and a a separate, filmed incident at a Belfast peace wall in December 2017.

On that occasion she declared that the "Islamification" of Britain will lead to similar walls to separate the two sides.

She claimed the country was "descending into civil war" and said it was time to "rise up against the biggest threat against the entire world".

As Fransen returned to court today for sentencing, her barrister revealed that the Englishwoman has now decided to make Northern Ireland her home.

In mitigation, Mark Farrell argued that both speeches occurred at "neutral" venues.

"This wasn't outside a mosque or a place of worship where it was directed or targeted at a part of the population," he said.

Counsel added: "Ms Fransen has instructed solicitors to seek an appeal in this case."

Imposing community service after she consented to the order, Judge Conner warned her she could be brought back to court if any duties are not carried out to a satisfactory standard.

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