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Police have arrested six men on suspicion of inciting racial hatred after they posted a video on the Internet in which they appear to burn two copies of the Koran on 11 September.
The men have been released on bail, but will face court hearings in Gateshead, police said in a statement earlier today. Two of the men were arrested on 15th September and a another four on 22 September. The arrests follow controversy over plans by US preacher Terry Jones to hold an “International Burn a Koran Day” to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Simon Sheppard (51) and Stephen Whittle (42) have become the first people in the UK to be convicted of inciting racial hatred online. Sheppard and Whittle ran websites featuring pictures of murdered jews alongside cartoons and articles deriding ethnic groups. They were tried at Leeds Crown Court last year but before the Jury could return a verdict the two men fled to the USA attempting to claim political asylum. Whittle, who wrote the offensive articles, was condemned to two years and four months, Sheppard, who published it online, to four years and ten months.
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