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Video of Christian street preacher arrest goes viral

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"Don't take my Bible away!"
 

"You should have thought of that before you were racist."
 

On Saturday 23 February, Oluwole Ilesanmi, a Christian street preacher and former dentist, was arrested outside Southgate tube station in London for ‘breaching the peace’. The police have said that they were called by a member of the public who had complained that the preacher was being ‘Islamophobic’ as he shared the gospel with passers-by. The video of the preacher’s arrest has caused outrage, not just in the UK, but across the world and has gone viral.

If you want to make a stand for the freedom of Christian street preachers to preach on the streets of our nation without suppression, please sign this petition.

The story began when Ambrosine Shitrit, a Jewish campaigner from Campaign4Truth and Eye On Antisemitism, was driving past Southgate tube station in North London on Saturday afternoon. She saw a tall hooded man squaring up to a small elderly blackstreet preacher. She quickly pulled over, jumped out and started filming with her phone.

“I thought he was about to be assaulted,” Ambrosine said. “The preacher was fearless, but if I hadn’t started filming, he would have been attacked. The preacher was not breaching the peace and in no way had he been Islamophobic.”

Ambrosine encouraged the Muslim to debate with the preacher rather than threaten him. Both men then expressed their views to each other and robustly criticised each other’s religion. Ambrosine mediated and pointed out that Muslims evangelise across London without being threatened or silenced.

Two police officers arrived in response to a 999 call claiming that the preacher had been ‘Islamophobic’. The Muslim left the immediate vicinity and the police began asking the preacher to leave the area for supposedly ‘breaching the peace.’

 

For 8 years Oluwole has been preaching in Southgate and elsewhere around Greater London. He has been arrested before but said that the way he was treated this time was particularly painful for him.

Oluwole has explained to us what happened after the arrest. He says that he was then put into a police car and his Bible was thrown into the back of the vehicle. Still cuffed and in pain, he was taken a short distance to Southgate Police Station. He was not brought into the station, but instead was taken out of the car and searched. They found nothing, but as he said he didn’t want to go home, the Police officers drove himto an unfamiliar location miles from his home and de-arrested him.

He was left there without enough money for the bus fare home. A member of the public kindly gave him the money he needed, but rather than going directly home, he went back to Southgate tube station and continued preaching the gospel without further problems or interference.

 

He adds that the only caution he got that day was from his wife after he arrived home and told her what had happened.

In the afternoon, Eye On Antisemitism posted the video online, asking us (Christian Concern) to help. They were appalled by what had happened to the preacher and did not know if he was OK.

We appealed to the public on social media trying to find out his name so that we could contact the police and offer him help. Millions across the UK and around the world have expressed outrage at how the preacher was treated.

The preacher was, in fact, already known to some within our team and on Monday he came into our offices and spoke to our legal team about his treatment.

We thank Eye On Antisemitism and Campaign4Truth for alerting us to the situation, and to everyone who has raised their voice on this important story for freedom of speech in our nation.

Police officers around the UK need to uphold the freedoms, enshrined in law, to preach in public.

If you want to make a stand for the freedom of Christian street preachers to preach on the streets of our nation without suppression, please sign this petition.

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