A Muslim teenager has been fined for posting stickers telling gays and lesbians that homosexuality is wrong, and that punishment would await them.
Mohammed Hasnath, 18, a British Muslim from London, posted stickers in February of this year showing a rainbow flag with a black line crossed through it, and a caption stating: “Gay Free Zone”.
The stickers, which were posted around the Bow Church area of east London, were received with great hostility in the local community, with some local Jewish residents saying it reminded them of Nazi signs in the 1930’s which stated “Jew Free Zone”.
The teenager was arrested after being caught on CCTV posting up the stickers, and he later confessed to police that he had been handing them out to other young Muslims in the area.
Hasnath attempted in vain to defend his actions before Westminster Magistrates Court by saying “hundreds” of similarly offensive stickers were up throughout the area.
Prosecuting lawyer, Darren Watts told the court: “He said this was because in the Koran it was forbidden for any person to be a homosexual and as a practicing Muslim it was against his religion.”
A statement was also read to the court from Jack Gilbert, a board member of the Sandy Row Synagogue and co-chair of the Rainbow Hamlets community forum. The statement said: “For me I read this no differently from a sign that said 'Jew free zone'.
“When I see that sticker I see the signs my mother saw in the 1930s which actually carried less suggestion of punishment. For me I perceived an immediate threat of violence and had to make an instant risk assessment to my personal safety.”
Hasnath, who was representing himself, pleaded guilty to the offence.
When asked by the judge what he had to say for himself Hasnath said: “Basically, some people just handed them to me so I just put them up. I didn't say anything, it doesn't say that I am going to punish them it just says what God says in the Koran.
“I wasn't the one who made them, some people gave them to me and I only put up a few, there were hundreds of them up. I didn't know the police were going to get involved or that it was a offence or anything.”
Hasnath, was fined £100 ($160), ordered to pay £85 ($140) costs and a £15 ($20) victim surcharge.
District Judge Coleman said: “I think you used these stickers deliberately to offend and distress people, you certainly succeeded in doing that. You have upset people and they deserve an apology, you are not entitled to behave in this way.”