Yukiko Matsuoka via Flickr

A preacher who verbally assaulted a gay man in a homophobic attack at Speakers’ Corner in London has been convicted of a hate crime.

Content warning: This story may include topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable.

In a six-minute rant on 6 October, 2019, Omar Mohamad referred to his victim as “filthy” and “a creature”.

On 1 September, the City of London Magistrates’ Court heard that the 65-year-old told the man he was attacking that he is “worse than a terrorist” because of being gay and accused him of “spreading AIDS”.

The preacher, who is also known as Uncle Omar, launched into the tirade when his victim said he was glorifying terorrism during the speeches he gives at Speakers’ Corner.

With the site being famous for controversial opinions and debates since the 1800s, viewers often record speeches and debates – as was the case with this one, which was posted on YouTube.

“London’s Speakers’ Corner has had a proud and longstanding tradition of providing a space for debate. But this does not mean it is a safe space for hate crimes,” Kalsoom Shah, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said.

“Mohamad carried out a personal attack on the victim based on his sexuality. Mohamad’s words were homophobic, hostile and designed to intimidate and discredit the victim, who was left feeling extremely upset.”

Shah continued: “I want to thank those that called out this nasty behaviour at the time, and all those who provided statements to help the prosecution.

“Hate crime has no place in our society and the CPS will robustly prosecute offenders. I hope this conviction gives other victims of hate crime the courage to come forward.”

After a one-day trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court, Mohamad was convicted of using threatening, abusive, insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

According to the CPS, a “hate crime sentence uplift” will be applied to the case – meaning Mohamed could face harsher sentencing on 22 September due to the hostility he showed based on sexuality.

Galop is an LGBTQ+ charity there for those who have experienced abuse or have been the victim of a hate crime. They can be contacted Monday to Friday from 10am-4pm on 0207 7042040 or at HateCrime@galop.org.uk. You can find out more about them here.