'Satanic Islam' sermon cleric 'surprised and touched' by Peter Robinson's support
Controversial Pastor James McConnell has again appeared on the BBC's Nolan Show to defend comments he made that Islam was a "heathen" doctrine "spawned in hell" after First Minister Peter Robinson spoke out in his defence, reigniting the row row.
Pastor McConnell said that he did not regret any of the statements he made to his congregation and added that he was "surprised" at the support from Mr Robinson.
"He didn't really need to do that because when a man talks like that his career is at stake and I didn't want him to get into trouble over me," he said.
When asked how he felt about the First Minister standing up for him, he said: "Very touched indeed, but not only the Minister of Health stood up for me, Sammy Wilson stood up for me, Gregory Campbell stood up for me."
However, Pastor McConnell rejected claims that he was influential in the DUP, adding that he was not a member of the party.
"They believe in what I am doing, they believe in my ministry, they believe me to be honest they believe me to be sincere," he said referring to DUP support.
Mr McConnell went on to say that he did not trust Muslims because they were governed by Sharia Law but that Muslims in Northern Ireland "gave no trouble".
Khalid Anis of the Islamic Society of Britain claimed that the First Minister's comments were disgraceful and said that people in positions of leadership had no consideration for hate crimes that their words contributed towards.
"We should always remember from history, words of hatred cause actions of hatred," he said.
He told the pastor that he was ignorant of the Muslim faith and was stereotyping all Muslims
In response, Pastor McConnell produced a document he said consisted of 2,000 incidents where Muslims following Sharia Law had caused havoc around the world since 9/11.
Also appearing on the show, Bradford MP George Galloway echoed warnings that Mr Robinson's comments would be severely damaging for Northern Ireland and that Muslim investment could be withdrawn from the economy. He said reports of Mr Robinson's comments were already spreading through the Islamic world and would cause offence and outrage and that Northern Ireland needn't bother looking for investment or tourists from Islamic countries.
The pastor has said that he made his original comments to raise awareness of the plight of a 27-year-old woman in Sudan who has been sentenced to death for being a Christian and marrying a Christian man – illegal in Sharia Law as her father was a Muslim.
A number of high-profile Northern Ireland politicians, including Mr Robinson have attended the north Belfast church.