Norwich is the county town of Norfolk, in the East Anglia region of England. The Reverend Dr. Alan Clifford, pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church.
Last spring a Muslim complained to the Norwich city council after Dr. Clifford’s church displayed anti-Islam leaflets at their market stall on council-owned property. The council determined that the leaflets were “hate-motivated”, and banned the church from using council property for their stall. The church was also forbidden from using the local community center for its worship services.
The English Defence League is planning a demonstration in Norwich next weekend in support of the Norwich Reformed Church. As Dr. Clifford points out in the video below, following the council’s standards about “hate” literature, the Muslim stall should have been banned for displaying the Koran:
Below is some background information on what happened to Dr. Clifford last spring. First, from The Norwich Evening News, April 14:
Norwich church banned from using market stall after complaints about ‘hate-related’ leaflets
A church has been banned from using a market stall to hold its weekly outreach service following a complaint about “hate-motivated” leaflets published by the group.
The Norwich Reformed Church held a weekly outreach bookstall from the Norwich City Council-owned site on Hay Hill, but has been informed it is no longer allowed to use the stall after the council received a complaint about literature on it. The complaint prompted a review of the materials produced by Reverend Alan Clifford, pastor of the church, and the council contacted police as materials, particularly the leaflet entitled Why not Islam, were considered to be hate-motivated.
The church has been prohibited from using the site, while the council-run Eaton Park Community Centre has also been contacted with a view to ceasing any further bookings made by the church.
A council spokesman said: “We received a complaint from a member of the public about material published by the Norwich Reformed Church (associated with the Farthing Trust) which uses council facilities. This was considered to be hate-motivated and, in accordance with the agreed Norfolk Multi Agency Protocol, we contacted the police.
“Although the police advised that no criminal offence had been committed, we have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions. By allowing premises owned by the council to be used by an organisation publishing such material, we would be failing in that duty. People across Norfolk have recently been urged to stand up to hate-motivated and intolerant behaviour through a publicity campaign and as a council we have to play our part and take action where necessary.”
And from The BBC, April 16:
Norwich Reformed Church banned for Islam ‘hate’ leaflet
A church has been banned from holding a weekly bookstall in Norwich following a complaint it was producing “hate-motivated” literature against Islam.
The Norwich Reformed Church held the stall on the city’s Hay Hill, which is owned by Norwich City Council.
The council has stopped the church using the site for equality reasons.
Pastor Alan Clifford said the church would appeal in the hope “the council will see sense and see how they are violating our freedom of speech”.
Mr Clifford wrote the leaflet, Why Not Islam, about 10 years ago. The church has been distributing the literature from Hay Hill since 2008.
‘High and mighty’
He said: “Our first response was one of surprise.
“We felt this a violation of freedom of speech and I was accused of hate motivation in producing this leaflet.
“It’s an intolerance from the city council acting in a high and mighty manner as we’ve had it confirmed by Norfolk Police - who’ve inspected the document - there is no crime involved.”
Masoud Gadir, Muslim chaplain at University of East Anglia and president of Norwich and Norfolk Muslim Association, said: “When you look at the leaflet it brings in hatred and scaremongers as to what Islam is.
Norwich Reformed Church has been distributing literature on Hay Hill since 2008 “God has given us the mind and brain to think - not to follow any religion blindly.”
The Norwich Reformed Church, associated with the Farthing Trust, received notice from the council on 5 April that it would no longer be able to do outreach work on Hay Hill.
The authority has also advised the council-owned Eaton Park Community Centre not to take any further bookings from the church, which has used the centre as a place of worship since 1994.
A council spokesman said: “We received a complaint from a member of the public about material published by the Norwich Reformed Church which uses council facilities.
“This was considered to be hate motivated.”
The spokesman added that the police advised that no criminal offence had been committed, but the council had a “duty to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions”.
The Farthing Trust is appealing against what it describes as the city council’s “dramatic action”.
Hat tip: EDL Buck.