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Birmingham Muslim cleared of possessing flagellator as offensive weapon
From The Birmingham Post
A Muslim student, from Birmingham, caught in London with a bladed flagellator used by Shias to ritually scourge themselves has been cleared of possessing it as an offensive weapon.
Mohsin Khan, 21, who said he had been beating himself regularly with them since the age of six, had been driving to a West End nightclub with a friend when he was pulled over as part of a routine police check in London's Charing Cross Road. His car was searched and the flagellator - a handle with five metal chains each tipped with a sharp 10in blade - was found under his seat.
Officers also discovered a knuckle-duster in a door pocket.
But he told London's Southwark Crown Court that the flagellator was a "sacred implement" called a Zanjeer.
He explained it was used by Shia Muslims to whip themselves during Muharram, the month of mourning - something he had been doing "since I was six".
Khan, a former pupil at one of Birmingham's King Edward VI Grammar Schools, and currently studying at Queen Mary College, London, told jurors he had put the flagellator in the car with the intention of using it on himself 11 days before he was stopped. But he ended up using another one instead and forgot his was still under the driver's seat. Shia Muslims do seriously use flagellation as a religious ritual during Ashura but a zanjeer isn’t on the level of a pair of reading glasses at £1.99 each such that an absent minded person like myself has them scattered about the house and car.
The jury, which was shown two photographs of his bloodied and scarred back following a previous self-beating session, decided he was telling the truth and cleared him of possessing the Zanjeer as an offensive weapon.
However, they convicted him of a mirror-image count involving the knuckle-duster, after rejecting his defence that it doubled as a belt-buckle which he had taken off because it was digging into his stomach.
Adjourning the case to December 22 for pre-sentence reports, Judge Peter Testar told the student that while he could remain on bail in the meantime "you must not think I am making any promises".