Police tell European pastor biblical message ‘is not good’
Norwegian street preacher Petar Keseljevic explains, in a video on the International Human Rights Group website about being fined for preaching a biblical message
The conviction and $1,500 fine for a street preacher who feels his calling is to share the Gospel on the streets of Oslo, Norway, has been upheld by an intermediate court, and an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights is likely, according to the Inernational Human Rights Group.
IHRG President Joel Thornton told WND in an e-mail from Norway that he’d been advised the court ruling, to be released soon, will affirm the discipline against Petar Keseljevic, who describes himself as the first street preacher in Norway.
He was in the city’s downtown area on June 29 and 30, and on the second day was arrested for delivering a Gospel message, even though he’d been told by city officials he could exercise his free speech rights on the public sidewalks without a permit, Thornton told WND.
He was released after a few hours, and fined 9,000 Kroners, about $1,500, then appealed, and the IHRG got involved.
“He is a strong Christian brother who has a very definite calling to preach the Gospel on the streets of Oslo – his hometown,” Thornton said. “He preaches a very sound biblical message about the sin of man and the need to repent and turn to God through His Son, Jesus Christ. I found Petar’s enthusiasm to be infectious.
In a video on the IHRG website, Keseljevic describes his reason for preaching: “In these last days it is important that someone takes a stand and do what the message is meant for, share it,” he said.
Thornton reported he was able to walk the streets of Oslo where Keseljevic had been preaching in June.
“One of his early stops was at a street corner where he began preaching to the passersby and a crowd that was gathered. While he was preaching someone threw a full bottle of beer that whizzed by his head, missing by inches, and burst open on the sidewalk beside Petar,” Thornton said.
The next day he was preaching during a local parade to people who had gathered to watch.
“Soon the police arrived and told him that his amplification device was too loud. Petar immediately turned down the volume and continued to preach. The policemen moved across the street for a few minutes and called the precinct. Then they returned and told Petar that his message was not good for the parade and that he would have to move,” Thornton said.
The officers directed him to a remote corner along a busy street, away from any pedestrians, and he refused to go, stating he believed he had the right to preach on the public sidewalks.
“That is a right that is guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights, which Norway has agreed to uphold,” Thornton said.
He was then arrested.
Thornton said he’d been informed the court to which Keseljevic appealed had affirmed the police action “rather than protecting the religious rights of our client,” but that details of the ruling were not immediately available.
“We will ultimately take this … to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary,” he said.
Thornton said the case is about so much more than a dispute between a street preacher and a police officer.
“It is about the right of a Christian to share his faith in public without the fear of arrest. It is about stopping the implementation of a police state where citizens only have the rights granted to them by the local police department,” he said..
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