An 18-year-old Muslim man has been fined for posting homophobic stickers around London’s East End.
Mohammed Hasnath, 18, of Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, was arrested last month at his home and represented himself in court today. He pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined £100 plus £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
When told the allegation against him of a public order offence of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour between 11-14 February, Hasnath reportedly said: “But I just put up stickers, I didn’t harass or swear at anybody or anything.”
The court also heard that Hasnath was on bail for allegedly defacing a billboard advertising women’s fashion.
In a statement read to the court, Jack Gilbert, a board member of the Sandy Row Synagogue and co-chair of the Rainbow Hamlets community forum, said: “For me I read this no differently from a sign that said ‘Jew free zone’.
“When I see that sticker I see the signs my mother saw in 1930 which actually carried less suggestion of punishment.
“For me I perceived an immediate threat of violence and had to make an instant risk assessment to my personal safety.”
However, Mr Gilbert had earlier claimed that the stickers could be the work of the English Defence League. In February, he said: “We have evidence that they were very likely to have been produced by far-right sources in order to ferment community tension.”
A retired resident in the local area also made a statement saying: “I was deeply shocked and decided to remove it as it immediately struck me as deeply offensive contained an implied threat of violence.”
The stickers, which were found in Brick Lane, Poplar, Bow and Canary Wharf, showed a red line through a rainbow flag and the words ‘gay-free zone’.
They said: “Arise and warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment.” At least 70 were reported.
After the anti-gay messages were discovered, local residents began a campaign to remove them and replace them with messages of love.