Christian hoteliers cleared in Muslim woman abuse row

A devout Christian couple have been cleared of insulting a Muslim guest because of her faith.

Benjamin and Sharon Vogelenzang were accused of launching a tirade against Ericka Tazi at the Bounty House Hotel in Aintree, Liverpool, in March.

The couple denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words which were religiously aggravated.

District judge Richard Clancy dismissed the case at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon.

Mrs Tazi, who converted to Islam 18 months ago, spent a month at the hotel in Church Avenue while attending a course at Aintree Hospital.

She claimed the couple became enraged when she wore a hijab on her last day and accused Mr Vogelenzang, 53, of asking her if she was a murderer and a terrorist.

She also told the court Mr Vogelenzang called the Prophet Muhammad a murderer and a warlord and likened him to Saddam Hussein and Hitler.

But the couple denied her version of events and claimed Mrs Tazi told them Jesus was a minor prophet and that the Bible was untrue.

Earlier on Wednesday the court heard that takings at the couple’s hotel were down by 80% since they were prosecuted for the public order offence.

Speaking from the witness box, Mr Vogelenzang accused 60-year-old Mrs Tazi of “trying to ruin his business” during heated scenes.

The two-day trial ended when Judge Clancy ruled that the evidence against the hoteliers was “inconsistent” and dismissed the case.

Explaining his reasons for dismissal, Judge Clancy said Mrs Tazi’s claim that she was verbally attacked for up to an hour had not been backed up by the other witnesses.

– Source / Full Story: Christian hoteliers cleared in Muslim woman abuse row , BBC, Dec. 9, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

A district judge questioned the character of a Muslim convert as he dismissed the case against husband and wife Christian hoteliers who she claimed had deeply offended her new-found religion.

Ericka Tazi, 60, who converted when she married a Muslim man, had claimed that Ben Vogelenzang, 53, had called her a terrorist and compared Muhammad to a warlord when she wore a hijab on the last day of her stay at the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool last March.

She also claimed that his wife Sharon, 54, had told her that wearing such a garment represented a form of bondage, or oppression, in a finger-pointing and aggressive tirade that left her severely traumatised.

After a two day trial Richard Clancy, a district judge sitting at Liverpool Magistrates Court, threw out the allegations, suggested that Mrs Tazi’s account of the events could not be relied upon and that she was not quite the religious person she presented herself as the witness box.

The case is being seen as a victory for free speech and religious liberty by evangelical groups, notably The Christian Institute, which sponsored the couple’s defence costs. It is likely to cause widespread alarm in the Muslim community.

It also brought Dutch-born Mr Vogelenzang and his wife, who were accused of religiously aggravated threatening behaviour under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, to the brink of financial ruin. They have lost trade and feared they would have to sell their business.

– Source / Full Story: Hotelier Ben Vogelenzang cleared of insulting Muslim guest, Russell Jenkins, The Times, Dec. 9, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

See Also

Common sense triumphs in Liverpool

The case brought against Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, a couple who run a boarding house in Liverpool, has been dismissed by the magistrate, in what was the first act of common sense shown by anyone in authority since the couple were charged with a religiously aggravated public order offence after a row at the breakfast table in their boarding house with one of their guests, a Muslim convert.

This is the kind of thing that brings the law, Islam, Christianity, and the idiot police who charged them all into disrepute. For once, the Christian Institute, which funded their defence, was right to portray Christians as the victims of a biased secular bureaucracy. But it was not the Christian Institute which brought the law and the police into disrepute. The police did that themselves.

– Source / Full Story: Common sense triumphs in Liverpool, Andrew Brown, Opinion, The Guardian, Dec. 9, 2009 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday December 9, 2009.
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