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Watch: London Preacher Guilty of Hate Crime for Homophobic Tirade

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday September 2, 2021
Originally published on September 2, 2021

A cleric who launched into six minutes of verbal harassment at a public speaking forum in London has been found guilty of a hate crime after calling a gay man "filth" and "worse than a terrorist," and accusing him of "spreading AIDS," Crown Prosecution Service said in a post.

"Omar Mohamad, 65, known as 'Uncle Omar' was convicted of using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behavior to cause harassment, alarm or distress," the CPS post detailed. Mohamed's trial took place on Sept. 1.

The episode of verbal abuse took place almost two years ago, on Oct. 6, 2019, after the victim, "a white convert to Islam... called [Mohamad out] for allegedly glorifying terrorism in speeches and conversations at Speakers' Corner," a forum for public speaking in London's Hyde Park.

In response to the man's objections, Mohamad lashed out with a tirade in which he called the man a "creature," cited the anti-gay trope of "Adam and Steve," and accused the man of being responsible for the deaths of 26 million people because he is a gay and "spreads AIDS".

"The abuse was filmed at the site, which has been famous for its public speeches and debates since the 1800s, and posted on YouTube," UK newspaper the Evening Standard recounted.

The homophobic content of Mohamad's jeremiad violated UK laws concerning hate speech.

"London's Speakers' Corner has had a proud and longstanding tradition of providing a space for debate," said CPS's Kalsoom Shah. "But this does not mean it is a safe space for hate crimes."

Saying that Mohamad "carried out a personal attack on the victim based on his sexuality," Shah stated that the cleric's "words were homophobic, hostile and designed to intimidate and discredit the victim, who was left feeling extremely upset."

"Crimes that are motivated wholly or partly by hostility or demonstrate hostility towards the victim of the offense based on that person's presumed race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability are eligible for an increased sentence," the CPS noted, adding that it would seek a harsher penalty at Mohamad's Sept. 22 sentencing, based on the biased nature of his remarks.

The CPS "prosecutes criminal cases that have been investigated by the police and other investigative organizations in England and Wales," text at the site explained. "Our duty is to make sure that the right person is prosecuted for the right offense, and to bring offenders to justice wherever possible."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.