A Christian preacher named Oluwole Ilesanmi has just been awarded £2,500 (about $3,100) by Scotland Yard for his wrongful arrest in the UK in February when he was falsely accused of ‘Islamophobia.’ As Metro Voice News previously reported, phone video of his arrest went worldwide on social media.
London’s metropolitan police removed the preacher from his location and transported him over five miles away in order to stop him from preaching the gospel.
The viral video of the incident showed police yanking a Bible from Ilesanmi’s hand, while he was pleading “don’t take my Bible away. All I wanted was for them to understand the Word of God.”
Olu was preaching outside Southgate Underground Station in North London when he was approached by police and arrested for “breaching the peace.”
After marching out of the area, law enforcement transferred him by car to a remote location over five miles away from where he was released. Lost and with no money, it was only through the kindness of strangers that Olu managed to find his way back to Southgate.
The police dropped Olu off at the edge of their jurisdiction at Wrotham Park outside of the London transport zone. He found himself penniless and unable to navigate back to a familiar area. With no money on him, a member of the public paid for Olu’s bus ticket back to High Barnet, according to Christian Concern.
“As the man indicated that he wished to continue his activities at Southgate tube station, officers felt it necessary to take the man some distance from the station in order to prevent a breach of the peace at that location,” they said.
After Olu’s arrest, Christian Concern launched a petition urging the British government to do more to protect the rights of street preachers. The petition has received over 38,000 signatures from those showing their support.
Founder and Chief Executive of Christian Concern, Andrea Williams, hoped that the petition would help “protect the freedom of street preachers” by ensuring that police officers only use their powers of arrest when this is absolutely necessary.
“Street preaching in the UK has a long, storied history. Open air preaching is the only way to guarantee that all the public is given the opportunity to respond to the love of Jesus Christ,” Williams said.
A metropolitan police spokesman said: “The Met respects and upholds the rights of all individuals to practise freedom of speech, and this includes street preachers of all religions and backgrounds. However, if the language someone uses is perceived as being a potential hate crime, it is only right that we investigate. In this case, it was deemed appropriate to remove the man from the area,” according to Dailymail.com.
Ilesanmi’s payout includes compensation for his wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, aggravated damages for exceptional harm and humiliating and distressing treatment, and acknowledgment for any possible psychological trauma experienced during the arrest.
“I believe God loves everyone, including Muslims, but I have the right to say that I don’t agree with Islam – we are living in a Christian country, after all,” Ilesanmi said in a Tweet.