Northern Ireland

Jayda Fransen sentenced over Belfast Islam speech

Jayda Fransen Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Jayda Fransen was found guilty of stirring up hatred during a speech about Islam in August 2017

A former deputy leader of Britain First has been sentenced to 180 hours community service over a speech she made in Belfast.

Jayda Fransen, 33, was found guilty of stirring up hatred during a speech about Islam in August 2017.

She was also convicted for separate comments at a peace wall in the city.

Convicting Fransen, of Moat Avenue in Donaghadee, County Down, a judge said her words were "a general, vehement attack against a religious group".

The speech was made during the "Northern Ireland Against Terrorism" event two years ago.

Britain First leader Paul Golding, 37, and two other English men, John Banks and Paul Rimmer, were previously acquitted on similar charges.

They were accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear.

During the trial, defence lawyers argued that each of the accused was entitled to freedom of expression, no matter how offensive their speeches may be.

'Baying for blood'

The court heard that Fransen told those gathered at the rally that there was no moderate version of Islam and that "these people are baying for our blood".

She added: "Islam says every single one of you wonderful people here today deserves to be killed."

Those attending the rally were then told it was time for the world to come together against "the one common enemy".

The judge told the court: "I'm satisfied these words were intended to stir up hatred and arouse fear."

He also found her guilty over a separate, filmed incident at a Belfast peace wall in December 2017.

On that occasion, the court heard that Fransen declared the "Islamification" of Britain would lead to similar walls to separate the two sides.

During sentencing on Friday, a defence lawyer for Fransen said she had now made her home in Northern Ireland.

He also said she intended to lodge an appeal.

He told the court no actual violence was occasioned as a result of Fransen's conduct.

Sentencing her, the judge said the words she used were "unlawful", adding that normally a custodial sentence would be imposed.

Fransen replied "Yes" when the judge asked her if she understood she would be returned to court if she did not properly fulfil the community service order.

Afterwards, Fransen called her conviction "a mistake" and a "wrong move".

"I think the sentence today probably reflects the fact that it was a bad decision," she said.

She said she had no remorse and that what she had said was "factual".

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