Men accused of burning poppies deny charge

Two men accused of burning poppies on the anniversary of Armistice Day each denied a public order offence today.

Mohammad Haque, 30, and Emdadur Choudhury, 26, were arrested during a demonstration by Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades.

The group held a noisy and confrontational demonstration in Kensington, west London, on November 11.

Haque, of Mace Street, Bethnal Green, east London and Choudhury of Hunton Street, Spitalfields, east London, stood in the dock during the short hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court to confirm their respective names, ages and addresses.

The pair, who both had beards and wore traditional black Muslim robes under their coats, each pleaded not guilty to one count under section five of the Public Order Act.

It is alleged that on November 11 at Kensington Gore both employed threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within hearing or sight of persons who could be alarmed or distressed by this.

Outlining the charge, Prosecutor Malachy Pakenham said: "It is a matter of so-called protest. They burned poppies on Armistice Day, it is as straightforward as that.

"Our case is that they did cause alarm and distress to the persons that witnessed this."

He added that the English Defence League were on one side of the road while representatives from Muslims Against Crusades had been on the other.

District judge Quentin Purdy granted the two men unconditional bail and fixed a trial date for 10am on February 23 next year, with a case management hearing to be held at the same court on January 12.

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