Man who made 'Koran' toilet paper escapes jail


GERMANY: A German court has handed down a one-year suspended jail sentence to a man who printed the words "The Holy Koran" on toilet paper and distributed it to mosques and newspaper offices. Derek Scally reports from Berlin

The 61-year-old pensioner, identified only as Manfred van H, was ordered to perform 300 hours of community service as punishment for his scheme to sell the "Koran" toilet paper for €4 a roll to raise funds, as he claimed, for a "monument to the victims of Islamic violence".

The defendant told a western German court yesterday he came up with the idea after the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 and the London bombings of 2005.

A month after he sent out the toilet paper he was arrested, after a complaint from the Iranian embassy. Under German law, anyone who insults "confessions, religious communities or groups promoting a special world view" can be jailed for up to three years.

"It wouldn't have interested anyone if it was a print of the Bible," the defendant said in court yesterday. "I lived for 15 years in the Middle East and I know well what Islam means."

Van H, who described the Koran as "a cookbook for terrorists", said he had received murder threats.