John Manley has an interesting interview with First Minister, Peter Robinson in todays Irish News. Over the last week a number of DUP representatives have voiced their support for Pastor McConnell and now Robinson has added himself to that list.
Speaking to Manley he said;
“This is somebody who has lived his life for Christ.”
Questioned about Pastor McConnell’s attack on Islam, Mr Robinson said it was the duty of any Christian preacher to “denounce false doctrine”.
“He’s perfectly entitled to do that — it’s an appropriate thing for a minister to do,” he said.
“It’s been happening for generations and nobody should look at that issue.”
Addressing Pastor McConnell’s assertion that he could not trust Muslims, the first minister said a sermon was not like a legal document with “caveats, conditions and qualifications”.
He said the preacher had applied a “broad stroke” when talking about trusting the followers of Islam.
The interview did take a strange turn when Robinson mused over whether the Pastor’s comments where a hate crime;
If it is (a hate crime) then I’m going straight away to the police to ask them to take action against all those who say they don’t trust politicians — you can’t have it both ways… If it’s a hate crime if you say someone is not trusting a group of people then Steve Nolan has an awful lot to answer for, because I hear every morning on his programme people who don’t trust politicians.
He told Manley that he had to live under police protection and have bullet proof windows, yet nobody complained that, that was a hate crime.
In fairness, Robinson did say that he was prepared to condemn attacks against Muslims, but that while he wouldn’t trust those who want to introduce sharia law or commit terrorist acts, he would trust other muslims to conduct daily tasks like going down to the shops.
David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs