A MAN who threatened to burn down Hastings Mosque in retaliation for the brutal killing of soldier Lee Rigby in London has been given a suspended jail sentence.
Unemployed Adam Rogers, 28, of Woolwich, a former English Defence League (EDL) activist, was staying with friends in Hastings when he posted a tirade of offensive and obscene remarks on Facebook including the statement ‘the mosque needs burning down’.
He also called on fellow EDL members to congregate at Hastings Mosque in St Leonards.
On Monday (July 15), Rogers was sentenced to 16 weeks in custody, suspended for two years, by Hastings magistrates. He was also given a supervision requirement for 24 months and ordered to pay £85 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
Just a fortnight ago, Kevin Newsome, 58, from Luton, was fined £200 by Hastings magistrates after he walked into Hastings Mosque late at night on August 18 last year, threw a number of shoes into the street, and harassed a Muslim family.
On May 22 Drummer Lee Rigby was killed in broad daylight in Woolwich, Adam Rogers’ hometown.
Rogers made the offensive comments on Facebook on May 23 prompting a complaint to police who arrested him on May 24. By then he had removed the remarks from the social networking site.
He pleaded guilty to the charge of sending an indecent, obscene, or menacing message.
At Monday’s sentencing, Aidan Harvey, defending, said that Rogers withdrew his patronage of EDL after the incident.
He said: “Woolwich is a garrison town. He did not know Lee Rigby, but knew him by sight.
“At a time when anger and resentment is running high, to post those comments worldwide is likely to inflame the situation, but I think the most telling point is that he took them off, and not because he was being investigated.”
A number of friends of Rogers had commented on the post that they found it offensive, including a good friend of his who was Muslim.
“Within a very short period of doing what he did, he realised it was wrong when it suddenly became personal to him,” Mr Harvey added.
Sentencing Rogers, Nicola Pankhurst, chairman of the bench, said: “We are clearly aware that this is an offence which is incredibly serious. We are satisfied that this does reach the custody threshold.”
Imam Magdi Osman, speaking on behalf of Hastings Mosque users, said in response to the Rogers and Newsome cases: “We were not necessarily looking for heavy sentences. We are happy to see they have been caught and dealt with.
“We hope that one day we can sit down with them, and talk with each other and understand each other, so that we can live as one.”