CAIRO – A Middlesbrough fan has been fined for ripping up pages of the Noble Qur’an during a football game last December, as a Birmingham court found him guilty for the religiously aggravated public order offence.
“Incidents of this kind are considered extremely offensive to some members of the community,” Ronald Healy, the chairman of Birmingham Magistrates' Court bench, said while passing the sentence, the Mirror reported.
“We hope that in the future you will not ever, ever participate in any such incident,” he added.
The incident goes back to three months ago when two Middlesbrough fans were suspended from matches after facing accusations of ripping up the Noble Qur’an during game against Birmingham city.
One of the two fans, Mark Stephenson, was seen ripping up pages torn from a copy of Qur’an by another supporter.
He also pretended to set fire to some of the pages of the holy book while holding a lighter.
“It's the Muslim bible, we hate Muslims,” Stephenson said when he was asked by a steward what the book was.
“The incidents that we have had described to us are extremely unsavory and extremely regrettable,” Healy, the chairman of the bench, said.
Yet, Stephenson’s defense solicitor Ash Mistry told magistrates that his client was drunk and couldn't recall his anti-Muslim action.
“He is in no way racist and he holds no racist views towards Muslims,” the lawyer told the court.
Pleading to magistrates, the 25-year-old fan claimed that he was “shocked and appalled” at his own actions.
Along with the £235 fine, the assailant was ordered to pay £105 in costs and a £23 victim surcharge by Birmingham Magistrates' Court.
Hostility against British Muslims, estimated at nearly 2.7 million, has been on the rise since 2005’s 7/7 attacks.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
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