Loyalist activist Frazer in ‘Abu Hamza’ costume protest
North flags protester dresses up before court hearing to object to category of charge faced
Willie Frazer arrives at Laganside Court dressed up as radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza. Photograph: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Willie Frazer, from Markethill, Co Armagh, is charged with encouraging offences through an address to union flag demonstrators in January. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/PA
He arrived at the Laganside complex wearing a flowing black robe, skullcap and fake beard. An eye-patch and hooked hand completed his efforts to resemble the fiery Hamza, distinctive by his missing eye and prosthetic limb.
Mr Frazer donned the costume to hit out at being charged under legislation he says was brought in to deal with Islamic hate preachers.
He removed the outfit before appearing before the judge at Belfast Magistrates’ Court for an update on his case.
The 53-year-old, from Markethill, Co Armagh, is charged with encouraging offences through an address to union flag demonstrators in January.
He is also accused of three counts of taking part in an unnotified public procession, obstructing traffic in a public place, and possession of a prohibited weapon, namely a Taser stun-gun.
Prosecutors today confirmed the case against him is to proceed summarily, rather than by indictment to the Crown Court. Mr Frazer’s lawyers were given one week to state whether he will contest the charges.
Releasing him on continuing bail, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said she wanted to know how long the case will take if not guilty pleas are entered.
It was also confirmed that Mr Frazer’s bail conditions are to be varied to enable him to attend a parade in Belfast this weekend.
Flanked by supporters outside the court, he explained his reasons for dressing as Hamza, the radical one-handed cleric deported from Britain to face terrorist-related charges in the US.
Mr Frazer hit out at being charged under the Serious Crime Act 2007. “This law was brought in to deal with extreme creatures of hate, Muslim creatures who look to behead British soldiers, and I get charged with it.” Accusing the police of being “politically controlled” by Sinn Féin, he claimed: “This is the start of a campaign to try and pull, the Protestant people down. But the IRA couldn’t do it and (Chief Constable) Matt Baggott won’t do it.
“If I have to go to jail I will go to jail.”