Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hoteliers cleared of insulting Muslim guest for wearing hijab to breakfast

Christian hoteliers accused of insulting a Muslim guest for wearing the hijab and berating her for her beliefs were dramatically cleared this afternoon.

Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words which were religiously aggravated against white British Muslim convert Ericka Tazi, 60.

District Judge Richard Clancy, who heard the case in the absence of a jury, told the couple that religion and politics was the 'tinderbox which set the whole thing alight and it would appear because of strongly entrenched positions that is what has happened here'.

Explaining his reasons for dismissing the case, he said Mrs Tazi's claim that she was verbally attacked by the couple for up to an hour had not been borne out by other prosecution witnesses, who suggested that any discussions lasted around seven minutes.

Judge Clancy also highlighted Mrs Tazi's use of language. When describing how she was provoked by the couple about her hijab she used words to the effect of: 'Would you prefer it if I got my tits out?'

He said: 'I mention this because when I read that together with what she said about 'them taking the piss' it doesn't quite form the same religious view that was put to me on the stand'.

Judge Clancy said: 'I'm not satisfied on the facts that this case has been made out.'
His decision was greeted by prolonged applause from the couple's supporters in the public gallery.

Outside, Sharon Vogelenzang told reporters: 'We've been found innocent of any crime. It has been a very difficult nine months and we are looking forward to rebuilding our business and getting on with our lives.

'We would like to thank all those who have supported us, our family, our friends, our church and Christians all around the world, and non-Christians.

'And as Christmas approaches we wish everybody peace and goodwill.'

Mrs Tazi told the court yesterday that she was left traumatised after being insulted by the couple while a guest at The Bounty House Hotel in Aintree, Liverpool, on March 20.

She said they laughed at her when she came down wearing a hijab on her final day at the hotel and shouted at her, saying her Islamic dress was a form of bondage and that she had provoked an argument by wearing it.

Mrs Tazi, who converted to Islam when she married a Muslim 18 months ago, was staying at the hotel while she attended a pain management clinic at Aintree Hospital for her fibromyalgia.

She claimed Mr Vogelenzang called the prophet Mohammed a murderer and a warlord and likened him to Saddam Hussein and Hitler.

But the couple denied her version of events and claimed Mrs Tazi told them Jesus was a minor prophet and that the Bible was untrue.

More at Mail Online

H/T: WomenAgainstSharia





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