There are hard-core Unionists in the North of Ireland, then there's Unionists who take loyalty to Queen and Country to the next level. Few would argue that the First Deputy of Northern Ireland Peter Robinson is the latter, not the former. The Belfast Telegraph reported on May 29, 2014, as well as a follow-up report on May 30, 2014, that the Orangeman left little doubt where he stood regarding the rights of a certain Christian pastor to preach from his pulpit, and also how he looked upon the followers of Mohammed in relation to residing in Ulster.
Never known as one who minces words, the row began last week when Pastor James McConnell of Belfast's Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle church described Islamic belief as "satanic" and a "doctrine spawned in hell." Shortly thereafter, it was reported that the small but rapidly growing Muslim community in the North of Ireland considered themselves victims of McConnell's words, leaving them filled with "hurt and outrage."
Perhaps due to Great Britain's so-called "hate speech" laws, there is reportedly a possible criminal case being built against the popular Belfast preacher. Nonetheless, McConnell has made clear that he steadfastly "refuses to withdraw the remarks, saying he will go to prison first." and making it abundantly clear that he refuses to bend or break to what he calls "the powers of darkness."
Other than the fundamental differences in theological dogma and doctrine between Christianity and Islam, Islamic Global Jihad also has roots in Belfast. The Telegraph (of London, UK) reported in 2010 that terrorist "Kafeel Ahmed, who died of horrific burns after driving a Jeep packed with gas canisters into Glasgow airport in 2007, had been president of the Islamic society at Queen's University, Belfast."
Koo koo ka-choo, Mr. Robinson...
In the Protestant-Catholic power sharing government of the London-controlled counties of the province, Robinson holds the title of First Minister, while a Catholic Deputy First Minister is essentially the junior, but still powerful member of the partnership. The Muslim population is nowhere near the size of the Protestant or Catholic demographic, but is steadily growing, having doubled in size to 4,000 since 2001.
Minister Robinson drew fire when he recently supported McConnell's right to preach his brand of Christianity. As Robinson stated:
It is a duty of any Christian preacher to denounce or demonise false doctrine. He's perfectly entitled to do that – it's an appropriate thing for a minister to do. It's been happening for generations and nobody should look at that issue.
Robinson further angered critics when he mingled personal opinion with what his detractors could take as his official position as First Deputy:
I'll be quite honest, I wouldn't trust them [Muslims] in terms of those who have been involved in terrorist activities. I wouldn't trust them if they are devoted to Sharia Law. I wouldn't trust them for spiritual guidance. Would I trust them to go down to the shops for me, yes I would, would I trust them to do day-to-day activities... there is no reason why you wouldn't.