Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
by Jonathan Petre
A Christian couple have been charged with a criminal offence after taking part in what they regarded as a reasonable discussion about religion with guests at their hotel.
Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were arrested after a Muslim woman complained to police that she had been offended by their comments.
They have been charged under public order laws with using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words' that were 'religiously aggravated'.
The couple, whose trial has been set for December, face a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record if they are convicted.
Although the facts are disputed, it is thought that during the conversation the couple were challenged over their Christian beliefs.
It is understood that they suggested that Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was a warlord and that traditional Muslim dress for women was a form of bondage.
They deny, however, that their comments were threatening and argue that they had every right to defend and explain their beliefs.
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