By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:34 PM on 23rd September 2010
Add to My Stories A gang of men have been arrested after filming themselves burning a copy of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 - and posting it on YouTube.
Six suspects were seized after allegedly setting fire to the Muslim holy book in the backyard of a pub.
The men, who hid their faces, then posted the video of the burning on the popular website.
Six men have been arrested after filming themselves burning a copy of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11 - and posting it on YouTube
In the film the gang are seen gathered round a copy of the Koran in the backyard of The Bugle pub in Leam Lane, Felling, Gateshead.
Appearing with what seems to be tea towels wrapped around their heads, the men show the holy book to the camera before dousing it with fuel from a red can and lighting it.
One man in a grey Adidas tracksuit and white trainers, who has a blue cloth wrapped around his head makes a series of obscene gestures towards the book as it burns.
Laughing, the track-suited gang shouts 'This is for the boys in Afghanistan. September 11, international burn a Koran day, for all the people of 9/11.
'This is how we do it in Gateshead, right.'
One man then attempts to add more fuel, but instead sets the plastic petrol can on fire.
He then kicks the book across the yard, leaving a trail of flames which he is forced to hastily stamp out.
The men hid their faces behind what appear to be tea towels and claimed the action was 'for the boys in Afghanistan'
Two men were arrested on suspicion of stirring racial hatred, and have since been released on bail.
On Wednesday four more Gateshead men were arrested and bailed. None were charged.
The incident follows tensions in America after an extremist Florida pastor threatened to burn 200 copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the attacks.
Terry Jones, of the Florida-based Dove World Outreach Centre, was warned by President Barack Obama that the controversial plan could be used to recruit extremists. The event was eventually called off after U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates personally contacted Jones and told him soldiers serving in Afghanistan would be put at greater risk by his protest.
It does not appear that Jones was ever threatened with arrest, however.
The pastor claimed he had agreed to cancel the event on the condition that controversial plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York were axed.
Claiming ‘victory for America’, he said Muslim leaders had agreed to move the location of the Islamic centre.
But Sharif El-Gamal, who is behind the proposals to build the 13-storey centre near the site where Muslim terrorists killed 3,000 people in 2001, denied that any talks had taken place and said the mosque would go ahead as planned.
Back in Gateshead, a barman at the Bugle, who refused to give his name, said: 'I had nothing to do with the fire. I smelt the smoke so I went outside to put it out.
'The police came to the pub and searched it. We were closed for hours.
Pastor Terry Jones had threatened to burn 200 copies of the Koran on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks
'They took my mobile phones, some empty boxes the phones had been in, some CDs and DVDs, and all the tea towels.
'They arrested me and another man and took us to the station. They were asking questions about who had been burning the book.'
He claimed the pub has been targeted by the police because some customers had links to the English Defence League, a far-Right movement which protests against 'Muslim extremism'.
Around 30 men mounted a three-hour peaceful protest outside Gateshead Police Station after the initial arrests were made.
In a joint statement, Northumbria Police and Gateshead Council condemned the book burning.
'The kind of behaviour displayed in this video is not at all representative of our community as a whole,' said the spokesman.
'Our community is one of mutual respect and we continue to work together with community leaders, residents and people of all faiths and beliefs to maintain good community relations.'
Police confirmed the arrests were in relation to burning the book, not for making, distributing or watching the video.
'On Wednesday, September 22, four men from Gateshead were arrested on suspicion of stirring racial hatred,' a spokesman said.
'The arrests followed the videotaped burning of what are believed to have been two Korans in Gateshead on September 11.
So, two stories, back to back. In one, a US court refuses to prosecute a man for burning a Qur'an. In another, British police arrest six men for the same thing. Who's right?
'Two other men have previously been arrested and bailed in relation to this incident. Enquiries are ongoing.'
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