Free speech? Muslim man convicted of offensive Facebook message
A teenager has been found guilty of posting an offensive Facebook message following the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.
Azhar Ahmed, 19, of Ravensthorpe, West Yorkshire, was charged with sending a grossly offensive communication.
He told Huddersfield Magistrates Court he accepted the message had been “unacceptable” but had denied it was “grossly offensive”.
The judge said his comments were “derogatory” and “inflammatory”.
The six soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Lashkar Gah on 6 March in the deadliest single attack on British forces in Afghanistan since 2001.
Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, was killed alongside Cpl Jake Hartley, 20, Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, Pte Daniel Wade, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment.
The offensive message, which said “all soldiers should die and go to hell”, was posted by Ahmed just two days later on 8 March.
Ahmed told the court he was only trying to make his point that many other deaths in Afghanistan were being ignored and added he had no idea it would cause so much upset.
He said he replied with apologies to many people who commented on his Facebook page and when some told him they had lost relatives in Afghanistan he realised how serious it was.
“That’s when I realised it was unacceptable for them to see something so upsetting and distressing, to write something like that,” he added.
District Judge Jane Goodwin said Ahmed’s Facebook remarks were “derogatory, disrespectful and inflammatory”.
He will be sentenced later.