Britain First leader found guilty of Islamophobic attack
The deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right nationalist political party has been found guilty of using religiously aggravated hate speech against a Muslim woman in a hijab.
Jayda Fransen, 30, was fined £1200 and ordered to pay £720 in costs and court surcharge on Thursday for shouting Islamophobic abuse at a woman wearing a hijab.
In sentencing at Luton Magistrates Court, District Judge Carolyn Mellanby noted Ms Fransen "did not have the best of educations" and voiced her "distaste" at Fransen's behaviour.
"I found your actions to be offensive, insulting, abusive and religiously aggravated," said Judge Mellanby.
Ms Fransen admitted shouting at Ms Sharpe in front of her four children, all under the age of four, saying that Muslim women have to cover up out of fear of being raped.
"Why are you covered? Your men say you have to cover yourself to avoid being raped," said Ms Fransen.
"You are being hidden because your men can't control themselves - that's why they're coming to my country and raping people all across the continent."
Ms Fransen denied that the words were meant to be offensive at the trial.
|We've been appalled with the way the Britain First have used the Christian symbol - the cross - in their so-called 'Christian patrol'|
The court heard how Ms Fransen and a group of around 20 Britain First members had been trying to distribute copies of their newspaper with the headline "World War Three has begun: Islam vs the world", in a predominantly Muslim area of Luton, called Bury Park.
The group were also brandishing large white crosses and shouting anti-Islamic messages.
A local Christian leader spoke as a witness at the trial, after he drove past the group of Britain First members and shouted "you don't represent Christians in this town".
Reverend David Kesterton of the All Saints church in Luton told The New Arab: "Along with number of other Christian churches from across Luton, we've been appalled with the way the Britain First have used the Christian symbol - the cross - in their so-called 'Christian patrol'."
"They are suggesting that because this is a Christian country, Muslims don't belong here. We don't believe that.
"We want this to be a community that welcomes all faiths - Muslims and Christians living together respectfully in harmony and that happens a great deal here."
A number of bodyguards stood outside the trial and intimidated journalists as they entered the court-room.
Two reporters were assaulted by Britain First members and one man was arrested on assault charges.
Britain First have hit the British headlines on a number of occasions in recent years for 'invading' mosques and offering out bibles to worshippers while refusing to take off their shoes.The party received 20,000 votes in the last European elections in 2014, when it stood under the name, "Remembering Lee Rigby", referencing a British soldier who was murdered by a Muslim in south east London. Britain First later apologised for using the name after Mr Rigby's mother complained.