A Preston taxi driver has been arrested on suspicion of religiously aggravated harassment after his anti-Christian rant went viral.
The Deepdale-based driver faces a police investigation and being stripped of his taxi licence over his video, in which he threatened to rape Muslim converts to Christianity.
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The tirade was widely shared on social media, to the horror and revulsion of readers.
But now the driver has issued a public apology to Lancashire Post readers, and begged for their forgiveness.
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In the new video, posted on the Lancashire Post Facebook page, he asks for forgiveness from Christians, Muslims and ‘everyone affected by it’.
Referring to himself as a ‘happy chappy’, he explains that the explicit comments in the video was intended as ‘banter between mates.’
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“I’ve come to realise that I made several obnoxious, crude comments which I shouldn’t have made. I’m really sorry for the offence caused”, he said.
His original rant was posted as a response to the announcement from a taxi driver based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, that he had converted to Christianity.
It was reported to Lancashire Police by a Preston woman who said she was concerned by the man’s ‘extremist views’.
She said she would not feel safe as a passenger in his taxi and is ‘concerned for the welfare of the public’.
She said: “After seeing that video, it frightens me now to identify myself as a Christian to someone that I don’t know.
“It’s sad that I have to hide my religion.
“This man’s dangerous views on something so normal like people changing religions is unacceptable.
“His threats to sexually assault those who convert to Christianity is the heart of hate speech.
“To me, he is displaying extremist tendencies and is encouraging violence.
“I’m genuinely concerned for the welfare of the public who may not be aware of his extreme views.”
Preston City Council said it is aware of the video and confirmed it had received a complaint from a member of the public.
A spokesman for the licensing department said: “We are aware of the video in question and we can confirm that we have received an informal complaint from a member of the public.
“We recognise the man in the video and we are liaising with police on this issue and will follow their lead in respect of the need for an investigation.
“If police confirm that this is a criminal offence, Preston City Council will review whether this individual is deemed a fit and proper person to serve as a licence holder.
“But in the event that police do not find grounds to proceed with a criminal investigation, Preston City Council still has the option to review whether someone is considered suitable to hold a licence and we can revoke that licence if necessary.”
Lancashire Police said in a statement it had launched an investigation and arrested a 41-year-old man from Preston.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of a video widely circulating on social media which shows a man making a number of offensive comments.
“As soon as this video came to our attention we launched an investigation and we have today arrested a 41-year-old man from Preston on suspicion of religiously aggravated harassment.
“He remains in custody and our investigation is on-going.
“We recognise the distress the comments have caused to a number of people and we hope they are reassured by the action we have taken.
“We are committed to tackling all crime motivated by hate and prejudice and we would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to have the confidence to come forward and report it to police.
“Victims will always be dealt with professionally and sympathetically.”
Hate crimes can be reported to police on the non-emergency number 101 and through the Constabulary website www.lancashire.police.uk