NI preacher sorry for 'Islam is satanic' sermon

Friday 06 June 2014 16.57
Pastor James McConnell said Islam was a heathen doctrine during address
Pastor James McConnell said Islam was a heathen doctrine during address

A controversial preacher in Northern Ireland who labelled Islam as "satanic" has apologised publicly for his comments.

Pastor James McConnell, who is a fundamentalist Protestant preacher at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle Church in north Belfast, branded Islam a heathen doctrine during a fiery address.

"People say there are good Muslims in Britain - that may be so - but I don't trust them," he said.

"Islam is heathen, Islam is satanic, Islam is a doctrine spawned in hell."

However, in a statement on his church's website he said he "had no intention of causing any offence or insulting any member of the Muslim community or to arouse fear or stir-up or incite hatred towards any member of the Muslim community."

He said his sermon drew attention to how many followers of Islam have "interpreted the doctrine of Islam as justification for violence".  

The statement continued "have qualified my comments by reference to those who use their religion as justification for violence. 

"As a preacher of the word of God, it is this interpretation of the doctrine of Islam which I am condemning. 

"I abhor violence and condemn anyone, of any faith, who uses religion to justify it."

On Wednesday, Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson made a public apology for any offence caused to Muslims by his defence of the preacher. 

The DUP leader had defended the preacher's remarks and had added that he would not trust Muslims for spiritual guidance, or those engaged in terrorist acts, but would trust Muslims to "go down the shops for me".