Police in the U.K. have apologized and paid £10,000 in damages to a female Christian evangelist who they wrongfully arrested multiple times in London.
The Metropolitan Police admitted they fell "below standards" in a recent letter to Hatun Tash, 40, after arresting her twice for preaching at the Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park, according to the Christian Legal Centre.
"I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to you for the distress that you have suffered as a consequence of these incidents," wrote Andy O'Donnell, Metropolitan Police Directorate of Professional Standards Civil Actions Unit. "I hope that settlement of this claim and this recognition of the impact of what happened will enable you to put these incidents behind you."
Tash responded, "l am very concerned by the approach the police has been taking at Speakers' Corner. The police have repeatedly taken away my rights and told me that they cannot protect me because they do not want to offend a certain group of people, which has been very disturbing."
As CBN News reported, on most Sundays Tash could be found in the square proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who will listen. As a former Muslim, she especially wanted to engage Muslims and lead them to Christ.
As the director of the Defend Christ Critique Islam (DCCI) ministry, Tash could be found at the square with a Bible in one hand and a Koran in the other, often challenging the Islamic religion.
But last year, she was a victim of a hostile attack by a knife-wielding man who was dressed in black and wearing a face mask. He slashed at her face and throat, causing her to collapse with blood streaming down her face as he ran away.
Tash believes the attacker intended to kill her, and even though he remains unidentified, she believes he was Muslim.
She also says lack of police protection is partly to blame for the attack. According to the Christian Legal Centre, the police have not made any arrests following her assault.
"Police inaction has led to what happened to me yesterday," Tash said at the time. "In the past, they have seen it as easier to remove me than to deal with people intimidating and threatening me. My attacker was not even afraid of the police as he did it right in front of them. It is heartbreaking that we live in a society where police do not want to arrest a Muslim for fear of being called 'Islamophobic'."
The Christian Legal Centre says Hatun was arrested on two prior occasions, accused of "breaching the peace" for preaching the gospel. She was detained overnight.
She challenged both arrests on the grounds of "wrongful arrest and unlawful imprisonment." Her lawyers said it was "abundantly clear" that she should not have been arrested.
The group also contends that the U.K.'s law enforcement is "implementing sharia law through the back door."
"Hatun is well known at Speakers' Corner' yet it is she that has been repeatedly silenced or removed by the police because she challenges the religious ideology of Islam," said Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre. "Not satisfied with hounding her out of Speakers' Corner an attempt has been made on her life for which there has still been no arrest."
"If Hatun is silenced by violence at Speakers' Corner, we are all silenced," she added.
Williams applauds the police for admitting wrongdoing and paying Tash 10,000 British pounds in damages, equal to roughly $11,300 in US dollars.
"This pay-out to Hatun is a rare admission by the police that they got it wrong," she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Tash is calling on the police to do more to protect Christians and free speech at Speakers' Corner.
"I believe Jesus Christ is the good news for Muslims, the police, and the world. Police need to protect my rights as l tell others this good news. My hope is that many Muslims will come to faith in Jesus," she said.
"More must be done to properly deal with Islamic violence and intimidation at Speakers' Corner. We don't live in Pakistan; we don't live in Saudi Arabia. I am Christian and by default, I believe that Muhammad is a false prophet. I should be allowed to say that in the U.K. without being stabbed or repeatedly arrested," Tash continued.
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