Azhar Ahmed from Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury was arrested in March 2012 following a Facebook post which he had made earlier in the month:
“People gassin about the deaths of Soldiers! What about the innocent familys who have been brutally killed.. The women who have.been raped.. The children who have been sliced up..! Your enemy’s were the Taliban not innocent harmful familys. All soldiers should DIE & go to HELL! THE LOWLIFE FOKKIN SCUM! gotta problem go cry at your soldiers grave & wish him hell because thats where he is going..”
He was subsequently charged with a racially aggravated public order offence in a move by the CPS which will baffle most readers of the English language. Nobody needs to be a scholar to be able to see that there is not the slightest hint of racial tone or content to the words which Azhar Ahmed posted.
At the first hearing on March 20th 2012 at Deswbury Magistrate’s Court, the CPS changed their charge to one of sending a grossly offensive message contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. I have recorded my thoughts on that already. In summary: let’s just say that this struck me as an exceptionally flimsy charge made in the interests of continuing a case which has no merit whatsoever.
Since coming into the public eye following his arrest and charge, Azhar Ahmed had been subjected to racial abuse and numerous threats, both online, and to his home address. At the time of these early hearings, Azhar was living in an undisclosed location outside of Yorkshire. At the first Dewsbury hearing, a substantial EDL / nationalist presence was in attendance, and there was danger of a serious public order problem. In my view this was entirely caused by the CPS decision to continue this lamentably weak prosecution.
After the sudden adjournment of a hearing on 4th July at Huddersfield Crown Court, the case continues on 14th September. In the time between the 4th July hearing and today’s hearing, we have seen the result of the Twitter Joke Trial appeal, which sets out that everyday free discourse online should not be subject to criminal proceedings. It is my fervent hope that this Friday we will see the CPS drop their case.
We shall see.
Azhar Ahmed was found guilty on 14th September. An open letter objecting to his conviction is now available to sign at http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-ministry-of-justice-uk-discuss-the-conviction-of-azhar-ahmed – please sign it.