The alleged crime took place at the corner of Alum Rock and Ellesmere roads in Birmingham, England, where an officer spotted two missionaries distributing "God's Bridge to Eternal Life" tracts.
The controversial pamphlets contained comments such as, "Throughout history individuals have tried many ways to gain or earn eternal life, but every attempt has been unsuccessful." There were Bible verses, such as, "Not by works of righteousness, which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. Titus 3:5a."
What happened next has reopened a painful debate about so-called "no go zones," areas that may as well be off limits to British citizens who do not heed Islamic laws.
According to a statement by the Rev. Arthur Cunningham, the "police community support officer" told him "you're not allowed to preach ... here. This is a Muslim area. He said, 'You know, you guys are committing a hate crime here with what you're doing. I'm going to have to call you in and take you in.' Then he took his radio and he said something like, 'There's a hate crime in progress here. I need assistance.' "
This occurred three months ago, but legal actions by Cunningham and the Rev. Joseph Abraham have created a wave of new coverage. Both men carry American passports, although Abraham was born a Muslim in Egypt and then converted to Christianity.
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