A former far-right activist who threatened to burn a mosque down in retaliation to the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby was convicted this week
Adam Rogers, 28, of Woolwich, who was a former English Defence League (EDL) activist, was residing with friends in Hastings when he posted numerous Islamophobic 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 to carry out the action.
Mr Rogers was given a 16 week custodial sentence on Monday, suspended for two years, by Hastings magistrate court. He was also given a supervision requirement for 24 months and ordered to pay £85 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
Mr Rogers made the offensive comments on Facebook on May 23, a day after the killing of Lee Rigby in his hometown. After complaints were made to the police, he was arrested him on May 24. By the time of arrest he had removed the Islamophobic comments from Facebook.
He pleaded guilty to the charge of sending an indecent, obscene, or menacing message.
At Monday’s court hearing, 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.”
Many friends of Mr Rogers had commented on the post stating they found it “offensive”, including a close friend of his who was a Muslim.
Mr Harvey added: “Within a very short period of doing what he did, he realised it was wrong when it suddenly became personal to him.”
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.”
Speaking on behalf of Hastings Mosque, Imam Magdi Osman said in response to Rogers sentencing: “We were not necessarily looking for a heavy sentence. We are happy to see he has been caught and dealt with.
“We hope that one day we can sit down with him, and talk with each other and understand each other, so that we can live as one.”
Woolwich attack and Islamophobia
Since the murder of British soldier, Lee Rigby in Woolwich on 22 May, Islamophobic attacks have increased across Britain.
Numerous mosques and Islamic centres have been fire bombed and targeted with bombs.
A mosque in Braintree, Essex and Gillingham, Kent was attacked on the evening of the Woolwich murder.
A mosque in Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Grimsby Islamic Cultural Centre was fire bombed within days of the of the Woolwich incident. Al Rahma Islamic Centre in Muswell Hill, North London was torched to the ground with “EDL” painted on its walls.
Darul Uloom in Chislehurst, Greater London was also set on fire weeks after the Woolwich attack.
A bomb was left at Aisha Mosque in Walsall on 21 June and at Kanz ul-Iman Jamia Mosque in Tipton on 12 July just after jummah prayers.
Wolverhampton Central Mosque was also evacuated on Thursday evening after a suspicious device thought to be an explosive was discovered next to the building.