UK: Judge dismisses 'guest abuse' case

UK: Judge dismisses 'guest abuse' case

The conclusion to the story of the Hotel owners charged for a religion argument.

The judge dismissed it for two reasons:
1. He doubted some of the testimony
2. Tazi's response in the argument wasn't 'devout' enough

This case is seen as a victory for 'free speech', but I'm not sure it is. First, the judge didn't throw the case out saying people are allowed to have discussions on faith without getting sued. He threw the case out saying that if you claim you're insulted for your religion, you better act devout enough. It seems like a weird argument to me, but maybe somebody could explain it to me.

Second, according to Tazi's testimony, this was a very heated argument, and she felt almost physically attacked by Vogelenzang. Was this just a case of simple insults, or of a physical attack? If it was an attack, why does it matter how long it was and whether the victim acted devoutly enough in return? If it wasn't - these two issues are really not relevant.


District Judge Richard Clancy ruled that Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang’s were covered by their right to freedom of expression under the European Human Rights Act after they were alleged to have compared the prophet Mohammed to Hitler and called the guest, Ericka Tazi, a terrorist.

They were said to have picked on Mrs Tazi, a 60-year-old recent Muslim convert, after she had come down for breakfast wearing a hijab and full length Islamic dress. But the court heard Mrs Tazi hit back, saying: “I've tried Jesus, it didn't work for me but the Bible is untrue anyway and Jesus is a minor prophet”.

In clearing them of causing religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress, Judge Clancy said 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".

The Vogelenzangs, who are born again Christians and have five adopted children and fostered a Muslim boy, said that the incident had devastated the business they had spent 10 years building up. Takings were down by 80 per cent at The Bounty House Hotel in Aintree since they were charged, she said.

Outside, Mrs Vogelenzang, 54, said: "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."

The judge 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.

He also said her use of colourful language during the exchanges “doesn't quite form the same religious view that was put to me on the stand".

Mrs Tazi, who converted to Islam when she married a Muslim 18 months ago, claimed she had been left traumatised after being insulted by the couple on March 20. She had been staying at the hotel for a month while she attended a pain management clinic at Aintree Hospital for her fibromyalgia, and the incident happened on her final day.

She alleged that the couple had turned on her and compared Mohammed to warlords from throughout history, including Hitler and Saddam Hussein. She was accused of “grossly exaggerating” her claims by the hoteliers’ barrister.


Source: Telegraph

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