London’s Metropolitan Police Service has apologized for two wrongful arrests of a female Christian evangelist at the city’s famed Speakers’ Corner, according to the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).
According to a press release from CLC, Hatun Tash, a well-known Christian evangelist who regularly critiques and debates the Quran and Islam at Speakers’ Corner, was arrested in December 2020, with police using coronavirus regulations to detain her after she encouraged officers not to hinder another preacher.
Her second arrest came May 23, 2021. According to CLC, she was “assaulted, abused and harassed by a group of Islamic men for wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Muhammad on it while taking part in weekly debates at Speakers’ Corner, known as the home of free speech.”
Video footage of the incident appears to show that when police officers ordered the men to leave the park, they refused and continued to intimidate Tash. Instead of dealing with the men, the police then chose to arrest Tash. She was held for 24 hours before being released.
Two months later, Tash was stabbed in front of police at the same location by a man in a black Islamic robe. No arrest has been made.
In a letter to Tash from the Metropolitan Police Service dated Sept. 29, 2022, Inspector Andy O’Donnell of the directorate of professional standards told Tash:
“Whilst the MPS constantly strives to maintain the highest professional standards, incidents occasionally arise when the level of service falls below that standard. I have considered the background to your claim and am satisfied that on these occasions the level of service did fall below the requisite standard.
“I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you for the distress that you have suffered as a consequence of these incidents.
“I hope that settlement of this claim and this recognition of the impact of what happened will enable you to put these incidents behind you.”
The police awarded Tash £10,000 (about $11,304) in compensation and costs, which she donated to the Christian Legal Centre.
“l am very concerned by the approach the police have been taking at Speakers’ Corner,” Tash said. “The police have repeatedly taken away my rights and told me that they cannot protect me because they do not want to offend a certain group of people, which has been very disturbing.
“I believe Jesus Christ is the good news for Muslims, the police and the world. Police need to protect my rights as l tell others this good news. My hope is that many Muslims will come to faith in Jesus.
“More must be done to properly deal with Islamic violence and intimidation at Speakers’ Corner. We don’t live in Pakistan; we don’t live in Saudi Arabia. I am Christian, and by default I believe that Muhammad is a false prophet. I should be allowed to say that in the U.K. without being stabbed or repeatedly arrested.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This payout to Hatun is a rare admission by the police that they got it wrong. Hatun is well known at Speakers’ Corner, yet it is she that has been repeatedly silenced or removed by the police because she challenges the religious ideology of Islam.
“Hatun is a fearless and passionate woman who loves Jesus and who has love and compassion for people from all backgrounds who she debates with and wants to reach with the gospel, which has transformed her life. If Hatun is silenced by violence at Speakers’ Corner, we are all silenced.”
Photo: Courtesy of Christian Concern