16:23 GMT +320 January 2018
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    Britain First and EDL (English Defence League) protesters walk along Northumberland Avenue during a demonstration in London, Saturday, April 1, 2017.

    Britain First Leaders Arrested in Belfast For Making ‘Anti-Islam' Speeches

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    Two leaders of a controversial right-wing group have made comments about Islam, including its deputy, whose tweets were retweeted by US President Donald Trump in November, leading to a diplomatic incident.

    Jayda Fransen, the 31-year-old deputy leader of Britain First, has claimed there is no free speech in the UK after being charged with using words which were threatening, abusive or insulting during a speech she made about Islam in Belfast August 6.

    After leaving Belfast Magistrates' Court on December 14, she immediately vented her spleen on social media, saying the charge against her was "some nonsense."

    "Basically I criticized Islam and they want to lock me up for two years," Ms. Fransen said.

    Trump Tweeting

    It was Ms. Fransen's tweets, which were retweeted by Donald Trump, which led to the US President being criticized by Prime Minister Theresa May.

    One claimed to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.

    "What the hell is going on? There is no free speech. I am a politician. This is our bloody country. If I want to criticize something I should be free to do so. I get criticized by Theresa May, by Amber Rudd, by Sadiq Khan, by Boris Johnson, on a daily basis, they have called me all sorts of names since Donald Trump retweeted me. You don't see me running to the police and crying. This is turning into an absolute police state and it has to stop," Ms. Fransen added in a video message.

    Leader of the Britain First far-right political party Paul Golding
    © Photo: Twitter/@Cameramal
    Leader of the Britain First far-right political party Paul Golding
    Britain First's leader, Paul Golding, who traveled to Belfast this week to give her moral support, has also been arrested — on suspicion of the same "trumped up" charge.

    Ms. Fransen, who was arrested by Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detectives in London last month, said she'd been given bail conditions which included a ban on social media.

    The court earlier heard the evidence against her would primarily be video footage, but there was also a transcript of the speech she made.

    Police have asked for conditions on her bail because of fears Britain First is planning another rally in Belfast.

    "We were concerned that there would be further offences," an officer told the court.

    "This lady is as entitled to free expression within the law as anyone else. If there is an offence she will be arrested like everyone else," said a lawyer representing Ms. Fransen.

    "The idea that she be prevented from speaking in my respectful submission is completely disproportionate," he added.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    politician, Islam, free speech, Muslims, Britain First, Donald Trump, Theresa May, Belfast, United Kingdom
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