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NORTHERN IRELAND PASTOR SAYS HE'S READY TO GO TO JAIL FOR CALLING ISLAM 'SATANIC'

An evangelical Christian pastor has said he would rather go to prison than withdraw a comment calling Islam "satanic". Pastor James McConnell of the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is facing prosecution under the Communications Act 2003 for making the "grossly offensive" statement in a sermon streamed online.

However, he told the Belfast Telegraph that he intends to plead not guilty and will happily spend time in jail with "sex offenders, hoodlums, and paramilitaries" rather than back down.

"I am 78 years old and in ill health, but jail knows no fear for me," the pastor said, adding that he had no regrets about his words on "heathen" Muslims.

McConnell said: "I do not hate Muslims but I denounce Islam as a doctrine and I make no apologies for that. I will be pleading 'not guilty' when I stand in the dock in August."

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