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British police under investigation for arresting street preacher

Police in London are being investigated for their arrest of a street preacher, which they claim was done to “prevent a breach of the peace.”

The international Christian group Barnabas Fund said Tuesday that the Professional Standards Unit of the Metropolitan Police has been ordered to review the arrest of Oluwole Ilesanmi.

The Nigerian preacher was arrested on Feb. 23 in front of Southgate subway station in north London. But a video showed no evidence of the officers’ claims of a breach.

WND reported the officers told Ilesanmi nobody wanted to hear him so he had to shut up and go away.

He didn’t, so they arrested him, reported BizPacReview.

See video of the incident:

The video was posted by Twitter user EyeOnAntisemitism, who explained, “The police told him it’s because public had said he was being islamophobic. We have the full video and wondered when preaching was now illegal.”

Barnabas Fund immediately asked police for a copy of the complaint and later wrote on Twitter, “We’re still waiting.”

The nonprofit group Christian Concern said it spoke with the minister, who said police ultimately dropped him off in a suburb without enough money to get home, but “thankfully a kind member of the public” helped him.

Ilesanmi had been accosted by a Muslim activist shortly before the video, according to Barnabas Fund.

“The preacher pleaded peacefully with two white police officers not to take away his Bible,” Barnabas Fund said at the time. “In a humiliating arrest, they placed his arms behind his back in handcuffs and took the Bible from him and one officer can be heard replying, ‘You should have thought about that before being racist [sic].'”

The report continued: “In a verbal exchange recorded in a two-minute video, one officer tells the unidentified preacher that he was ‘required to go away’ because he was ‘disturbing people’s days’. The preacher responded, ‘I will not go away because I need to tell them the truth. Jesus is the only way, truth and life.'”

Barnabas Fund said an eyewitness confirmed Ilesanmi was “being confronted” by a man who apparently was Muslim.

“The man was loudly abusive about the Bible and God with his face close to the preacher’s. The young man also threatened the preacher, brandishing a closed fist holding prayer beads,” the report said.

That claim would correspond with the initial claim of police that there was a complaint about “Islamophobia.”

Barnabas Fund said the video had received millions of views from West African countries such as Ghana and Nigeria.

“The arrest of the Nigerian preacher in north London appears to have been unlawful. The video shows the police telling the man that he must stop preaching. However, it is not lawful for a police officer to order someone to stop preaching unless their actions incite violence,” Barnabas Fund said.

One of the officers told Ilesanmi: “You’re preaching. I am going to require you to go away.”

“You can never,” the preacher said.

“OK, then I will arrest you for breach of peace, plain and simple,” the officer stated.

What breach? the preacher asked.

“It’s what you’re doing at the moment. You’re posing problems. You’re disturbing people’s days, and you’re breaching their peace,” an officer said.

The European Convention on Human Rights recognizes freedom of religion and expression, which includes the freedom to impart information and ideas without interference by a public authority.