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Christian volunteer takes discrimination case to Europe

8 September 2009

An Asian Christian volunteer, who was sacked from a community radio station in Scotland after a row with Muslim managers, has had his case referred to the European Court of Justice.

Judge Williamson ruled that the case should be referred for a preliminary ruling to the ECJ to decide if volunteers were protected by anti-discrimination legislation.

Reverend Mahboob Masih, a Church of Scotland minister, worked as a presenter on Awaz FM, which receives funding from the Scottish executive.

In a statement issued by the Christian Legal Centre, which is backing his case, he claimed that during his one-hour show for Asian Christians in Glasgow, he chaired a live debate about the views of Christianity expressed by a leading Muslim preacher in Mumbai, leading to complaints from local Muslims.

Rev Masih said that he apologised on air for any offence that may have been caused to local Muslims, but refused a request to make a further apology in a local mosque.

Andrea Williams, founder of the centre, described the decision of Judge Williamson to refer the case to the ECJ as “courageous”.

She went on: “We at the Christian Legal Centre believe passionately in the positive value of freedom of speech and will continue to fight the marginalisation of Christians.

“Rev Masih looks forward greatly to the European court case as this will give Christians throughout Europe a unique opportunity to have their freedom to speak and live out their faith confirmed in law.”

Javed Sattar, project manager at Awaz FM, denied that the case was about religious discrimination and said it was more of “a volunteer issue”.

He went on: “Why would we at Awaz FM, as it is claimed, sack a volunteer who has been with us for six years on the grounds of religion?

“We believe Mr Masih is making false claims and has turned this into a religious issue. Especially with the current climate of faith, it’s easier for him to use this angle of Muslims against Christians.”

Sattar said a large part of the Christian community was “very supportive” of the station’s programmes and Awaz FM still had a Christian faith programme running every Saturday between 9 and 10am.

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Legal Aid Discrimination ADR