x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Briton insulted Islam, Prophet in Dubai shop, court told

He denies the charges, saying he simply called a Pakistani salesman 'crazy' for supporting the Taliban.

DUBAI // A 40-year-old tourist appeared in court this morning accused of insulting Islam during a conversation about the Taliban, calling the Prophet Mohammed a terrorist.

AG, a Briton, appeared in the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours wearing shorts. He was sent away to change into more suitable clothing before he returned to the court to deny charges of insulting Islam and a Pakistani shop employee.

“I told him he was crazy, but I didn't say any of the other things he claims,” AG, who is staying at a hotel in Abu Hail area, told the court.

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“I spoke with him about the problems between the Pakistani government and Taliban, and when I understood from his responses that he was a supporter of the Taliban, I told him he was crazy because they were terrorists and they kill people and carry out bombings,” AG told Bur Dubai police. “I didn't say anything bad about Muslims and the Prophet."

According to records, AG visited the E-Max shop in Mall of the Emirates on the night of March 3, 2011. He met HH, 21, the salesman, greeted him and asked him where he was from.

When HH told him he was from Pakistan, AG responded that Muslims in Pakistan were not normal because they are killing each other and outsiders, records say. HH also told investigators that he told AG he was a Muslim and that the greeting he said to him was "namaste" – which is Hindi.

“I asked him how I can help him, to end the conversation,” HH said, adding that AG continued anyway and told him Pakistan would soon come to bad end.

HH testified he replied to AG that Muslims were peaceful brothers and helped each other. But AG retorted that he was crazy and that the Prophet Mohammed was not a peaceful man but a terrorist, records show.

“I walked towards him to hit him, but a customer who was present in the shop held me back,” HH told investigators.

HH informed mall guards but AG had already left, records show. An Egyptian customer in the shop witnessed the incident, as did HH’s Sri Lankan colleague.

On March 11, HH said he saw AG in the mall again and called security as well as police. AG was taken into custody. He denied to police that he had insulted the Prophet Mohammed. HH told The National that AG often spent time in the mall on weekends.

AG awaits a verdict on June 9.

salamir@thenational.ae