American Christians 'told not to preach' in Muslim area of UK

BIRMINGHAM, UK — Two Christians holding U.S. passports were told by a police representative to stop leafleting in a Muslim-area of east Birmingham, the BBC has reported.

"The U.S. Christians said they were advised they were committing a hate crime by trying to convert Muslims," the BBC reported, adding that the men were advised by a police community support.

The Christian Institute, a registered charity that seeks to promote the Christian faith in the UK, complained to West Midlands Police that the men, Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham, a pastor at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, in Saltley, Birmingham, were told to leave Alum Rock Road.

The BBC said that they claimed he warned them to leave the area saying, "If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned."

Cunningham and Abraham then agreed to leave.

According to the BBC report police maintain they investigated the complaint and said the officer intervened to defuse a row.

The men have demanded and apology and are seeking damages.

"The men, backed by the Christian Institute, have complained to the force, saying their human rights were infringed," the BBC story continued.

Lawyers for the two Christians have sent a strongly worded letter to the chief constable of West Midlands Police.

The letter says the two men are entitled to bring a claim against West Midlands Police for breach of their convention rights under Section 6 (1) of the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Christian Institute said that Cunningham and Abraham "are seeking a full and unreserved written apology, recognition that their convention rights were infringed by the conduct of the police officers, damages and reasonable legal costs."

A West Midlands Police spokeswoman said the complaint had been investigated by the force.

"The investigation concluded that the (officer) acted with the best of intentions when he intervened to diffuse a heated argument between two groups of men," she said.

The spokeswoman added that following the investigation the officer had been offered "guidance around what constitutes a hate crime as well as his communication style."