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Man says he was not encouraging terror attacks with call for ‘jihad with the sword’

An alleged Islamist extremist has said he did not mean to encourage terror attacks with a speech declaring that jihad “by fighting by sword” was compulsory for Muslims.

Abubaker Deghayes, 53, made the claim while addressing the congregation at Brighton Mosque after evening prayers.

He denies encouraging terrorism with a speech delivered on 1 November 2020.

A trial at London’s Old Bailey was played footage of Mr Deghayes making a sword gesture while saying: “Jihad, jihad, jihad! Jihad is compulsory. Jihad by fighting by sword, this jihad is compulsory upon you, not jihad is the word of mouth.”

The defendant added: “Jihad is compulsory upon you, you, you and you until the day of resurrection, whatever the British Government thinks, whatever Prevent thinks, whatever Israel thinks; send to the sea. They can go and drink from the sea [inaudible] Allah curse their fathers, OK?”

Giving evidence on Thursday, he said he had been explaining a “very central part of Islam”.

“I was encouraging people to put into practice the concept of jihad that exists in the religion of Islam, I’m not saying you should put it in practice and go and kill people or commit crime,” Mr Deghayes told the jury.

He said terror attacks by Isis supporters such as those in London Bridge, were crimes and “nothing to do with being a Muslim”.

The defendant gave evidence wearing the same top worn during the speech, a black hooded jumper bearing a “Free Palestine” slogan.

He denied that his speech could be interpreted as a call to violence, saying he was “explaining the concept of fighting in the way of Allah as it exists in the religion of Islam”.

Mr Deghayes said he wanted to encourage listeners to “hold up the concept, and not be cowardly or hypocritical and deny it for the sake of pleasing others”.

While being questioned by the prosecution, he described himself as a “normal average Muslim”.

When asked about the concept of Islamist extremism, he replied: “This phrase is something that is made up … there is no extreme islam, violent islam, radical islam, moderate Islam, in the Quran there is Islam.”

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In another part of the speech, Mr Deghayes talked about the “kuffar”, meaning non-Muslims, saying: “Allah is more powerful than you! You, idiots! You kuffar idiots, Allah is more powerful than you! The non-believer [inaudible] is an idiot, he’s stupid.”

The defendant said he did not hate non-Muslims, but hated “the action of disbelieving and denying”.

Prosecutor Ben Lloyd previously told jurors that Mr Deghayes had been “encouraging violence in the name of Islam” and that his speech amounted to a “call to arms”.

He added: “Through the defendant’s words and gestures he was encouraging people to undertake violent jihad.

“The speech demonstrates him to be an Islamic extremist – he is someone I suggest who believes in the use of violence in the cause of Islam.”

Mr Deghayes, of Saltdean in Sussex, denies encouraging terrorism and remains on bail as his trial continues.

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