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Christian Preacher Wins Right to take Case to European Court of Justice

Printer-friendly versionA CHRISTIAN preacher has won the right to have his case referred to the European Court of Justice following an accusation that a state supported radio station aimed at the Asian community discriminated against him because of his Christian beliefs and&

Issued by the Christian Legal Centre

Press Release

For Immediate Release
2nd September 2009


Christian Preacher Wins Right to take Case to European Court of Justice

A CHRISTIAN preacher has won the right to have his case referred to the European Court of Justice following an accusation that a state supported radio station aimed at the Asian community discriminated against him because of his Christian beliefs and views.

Church of Scotland minister, the Reverend Mahboob Masih, was a volunteer presenter on Awaz FM. Rev. Masih’s services were terminated after six years behind the microphone following a debate on air about the uniqueness of Christianity. This led to a phone in discussion that angered the Muslim management of AWAZ, a community radio station.

After being told he could no longer present the on the radio as a result of the debate, the 37-year-old complained to an employment tribunal that he lost this position for reasons related to religion or belief and was thus the victim of discrimination based on his faith as a Christian. The station denied discrimination, arguing the tribunal has no powers to hear the case as Mr Masih was not an employee.

In a ground-breaking decision, the Reverend Masih’s case will be referred for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice to decide if volunteers are protected by anti-discrimination legislation. If upheld, the consequences for employers in their dealings with volunteers who are open about their faith could be very significant.

AWAZ Radio is a Community Radio Station serving the Asian community in Glasgow. It is non-commercial and heavily supported by the state.

In the radio show, Rev. Masih had spoken about the Christian view on the uniqueness of Christ and this was the first time that many Muslims in Glasgow would have heard about the Christian faith. Rev. Masih simply responded to questions raised by listeners, in response to a Muslim speaker, Zakir Naik. Rev. Masih discussed the religious difference between Christianity and Islam. It was a religious debate under free speech principles and no intemperate language was used.

Rev. Masih was required by the management to make a statement of apology for the handling of the broadcast, which he duly did, though he added a point expressing his belief in the importance of freedom of speech. After apologising live on air, Rev. Masih was asked by the management to go to the mosque to make a further statement of apology. This, Rev. Masih felt was inappropriate and on grounds of conscience did not accede.

Rev. Masih then wrote a letter to the radio station, stating he believed he had done nothing wrong and that the request to apologise at the mosque was intimidatory.

Rev. Masih has been supported throughout his case by the Christian Legal Centre as he instructed leading human rights barrister, Paul Diamond.

Employment Judge Raymond Williamson ruled on 26th August 2009 that the case should be referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on whether Rev. Masih's status as a volunteer was protected by anti-discrimination legislation.

Judge Raymond Williamson said: "I ask myself the question, 'can it be right that the respondent, a creature of statute, partly funded out of public funds and set up with the aim of promoting social cohesion, should be able to discriminate on religious grounds against the volunteer staff it is obliged to engage as a condition of its licence?'"

Rev. Masih said 'This case shows the scandalous use of public monies to support unlawful acts under the guise of social cohesion. I do not believe any other religious group could have acted like AWAZ Radio. I remain grateful to the British courts. The Pakistani Christian community intends to protest to the Scottish Parliament to highlight discriminatory treatment of Christians.'

Andrea Minichiello Williams, founder of the Christian Legal Centre said: “We are grateful for the brave decision of Employment Judge Williamson. This is a courageous ruling. We at the Christian Legal Centre believe passionately in the positive value of freedom of speech and will continue to fight to prevent the marginalisation of Christians. Rev. Masih looks forward greatly to the European Court case as this will give Christians throughout Europe a unique opportunity to have their freedom to speak and live out their faith confirmed in law.''

For full details about the case visit www.christianlegalcentre.com

ENDS.

For further details/interview: Andrea Minichiello Williams: 0771 259 1164

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