Muslim Poppy burner found guilty of public order offences

A Muslim extremist who burned replica poppies on the anniversary of Armistice Day was fined �50 today after being found guilty of a public order offence.

Emdadur Choudhury, 26, a member of Muslims Against Crusades (MAC), was guilty of a "calculated and deliberate" insult to the dead and those who mourn them when he burned two large plastic poppies during a two-minute silence on November 11, District Judge Howard Riddle said.

Members of MAC were heard chanting "British soldiers burn in hell" before the poppy-burning incident near the Royal Albert Hall in west London, Belmarsh Magistrates heard.

"The two-minute chanting, when others were observing a silence, followed by a burning of the symbol of remembrance was a calculated and deliberate insult to the dead and those who mourn or remember them," District Judge Riddle said in a ruling given at Woolwich Crown Court.

Mohammad Haque, 30, of Mace Street, Bethnal Green, east London, a fellow MAC member, was found not guilty of the same public order offence.

Choudhury, of Hunton Street, Spitalfields, had denied a charge under Section 5 of the Public Order Act of burning the poppies in a way that was likely to cause “harassment, harm or distress” to those who witnessed it.

The court heard that the offence was committed as rival protests between the MAC and the English Defence League (EDL) took place at Kensington Gore in west London.

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Tony Kibble, the grandson of a Second World War soldier, told the court that he felt “sick inside” when he witnessed the poppy- burning.

Judge Riddle said the ceasefire at 11am on November 11 1918 had “huge significance” for people in Britain and was seen as marking the end of a “terrible war” in which millions died.

“The act of remembrance has come to include those who have died in subsequent wars and conflicts. The two minutes’ silence remains widely respected,” he said in his ruling.

“Even now the business of the courts, and indeed other everyday life, usually comes to a standstill at 11 o’clock on November 11.”

He said the poppy was a “vivid” symbol of the trenches of Flanders where many of the deaths in the First World War occurred.

“No doubt the event means more to some people than others and no doubt it symbolises different things to different people,” he went on.

“However it is undoubtedly the case that, for a large section of the population, remembering those who have died in the service of their country is of genuine significance. The two minutes’ silence is seen as a mark of respect.

“Against that background, interrupting the two minutes’ silence by chanting ‘British soldiers burn in hell’, followed by the burning of poppies, is behaviour that is bound to be seen as insulting.”