Council ban Norwich church over Islam leaflet

A Norwich church has been banned from holding a weekly city-centre bookstall and been stopped from worshipping in the premises which it has used for the last 18 years, after a complaint to Norwich City Council that it sold a leaflet criticising Islam. Keith Morris reports.

HayHillBookstallAfter a single complaint, Norwich City Council has decided to ban Norwich Reformed Church from holding their weekly bookstall outreach on Hay Hill for “equality reasons.” The Council has also advised the council-run Eaton Park Community Centre to stop from taking any further bookings from the church, which has held worship services at the site for 18 years, and a two-week ban has now been implemented prior to an appeal by the church being heard.


The complaint was made about a leaflet entitled ‘Why Not Islam’, written by the church’s pastor, Dr Alan Clifford some ten years ago. The Council claimed that the leaflet was “hate motivated”.


A Council spokesman said: “Although the police advised that no criminal offence had been committed, we have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions. By allowing premises owned by the Council to be used by an organisation publishing such material, we would be failing in that duty.”


AlanCliffordWebPastor Alan Clifford said the church were now working with the Christian Institute on the matter and would appeal in the hope "the council will see sense and see how they are violating our freedom of speech".


He said: "Our first response was one of surprise. We felt this a violation of freedom of speech and I was accused of hate motivation in producing this leaflet. It's an intolerance from the city council acting  in a high and mighty manner as we've had it confirmed by Norfolk Police - who've inspected the document - there is no crime involved," he said.


A police spokesman confirmed a complaint had been received from a member of the public regarding leaflets that were distributed but, following discussions with the council, the force’s diversity team and CPS it was “deemed that no offences were carried out”.


Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the campaign organisation Christian Concern, said: “Freedom of speech is under huge pressure in this nation. Criticism of other religions now appears to be seen as a hate crime. How have we come to this in a supposedly free society?


“The Council appears to believe that Christians are not entitled to their opinions and should be silenced. Unfortunately this appears to be a common trend in the public sphere.”


Norwich Reformed Church, which is currently worshipping in a private residence, is an associate member of Affinity (formerly British Evangelical Council).

Click here to read our previous story on this topic.


Read more about this story on BBC, EveningNews24 and from Christian Concern


Pictured above is Alan Clifford, pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church and the Hay Hill bookstall.


Tommy W 20/04/2012 15:23
Norwich City Council should be utterly ashamed of themselves,why have they gone to the extreme, why not ask them to remove the leaflet and tell them to not to put such material there in the future?

Islam is like a cancer which will infiltrate a government and filter down and affect every area of the social community, for example take Egypt and their so called democracy, the Muslim brotherhood is taking over the Country, and if you profess any other faith apart from Islam you’re basically condemned to death.

This is meant to be a Christian country with Christian values, yet we have all become nominal and lukewarm! Are we really Disciples of Christ and boldly declare Him as the only way to God the Father or are we all just playing at Church?

Islamic Sharia law is widely used throughout the UK in various Muslim communities and its coming your way soon…

“Islamophobia": The fear of speaking out against the rapidly growing religion/ideology that is out to repress all who do not follow its doctrine.

Muslims want a Jihad a holy war and will exterminate anyone that gets in their way…

Keith Morris 22/04/2012 16:21
I hope that your "comments" section on the Reformed Church "story is jammed packed with Christians of all shades and sizes, protesting over this PC decision taken to harass the Church in our "fine" City, because of ONE complaint. I'd better leave off now while I haven't said too much, or I maybe getting a knock on my door and taken away, never to be seen again. What on earth are we coming to in this country?
By John Lind
Keith Morris 22/04/2012 16:27
I think it is very unreasonable of Norwich City Council to respond in this way to one complaint, especially as the police have confirmed that no crime was committed. I would not have been surprised, or offended to see "Why not Christianity" on the stall of another faith. I am not offended during election time when I am bombarded with leaflets through my door and articles and interviews that suggest "Why not Labour" or "Why not Conservative", I expect it, whether I like it or not. Couldn't that also be described as "Hate motivated"?

Aren't we allowed to have different opinions and air them any more? I know that some of my closest work colleagues have been of different faiths, but we have had a high regard for each other because we all have high moral values. I doubt if the person that complained was a Muslim. But regardless of whether they were or not, it is a very harsh and unreasonable response by the Council. Where is freedom of speech? Are we no longer permitted to have an opinion or to air it?
By Susan Harvey, Norwich

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