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Britain Bars Radical Muslim Cleric's Entry

  • VOA News

Britain has barred the re-entry of a Muslim cleric, who, last week, said he would not tell police if he learned of a bomb plot by Islamic terrorists. The announcement comes just days after the cleric, Omar Bakri Mohammed, fled to Lebanon.

The British Home Office says it has revoked Mr. Bakri's residence visa because, "his presence is not conducive to the public good."

Mr. Bakri left London for Beirut last Saturday, one day after he told an interviewer that, if he learned of a planned attack by Muslim terrorists, he would not tell police.

The cleric made his remarks on the same day Prime Minister Tony Blair announced a crackdown on Islamic preachers who incite or glorify terrorism.

Britain is increasing anti-terrorism measures in the aftermath of the July 7 London bombings that killed 56 people, including four Muslim suicide bombers.

One of Mr. Bakri's key aides in London, Anjem Choudry, says the Blair government is making a mistake by banning the cleric.

"This is a failure of the freedoms and values that you espouse, and the Muslims around the world will see this as a great victory for Islam," said Anjem Choudry.

Mr. Choudry says Omar Bakri Mohammed will not appeal the British ban, but will continue preaching to his British followers using other methods, such as the Internet and video recordings.

Mr. Bakri first claimed asylum in Britain in 1985, after he was deported from Saudi Arabia. A native of Syria, he has been a prominent member of several extremist Islamic groups, including al-Muhajiroun, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Controversy has swirled around him for years, such as when he used the phrase "the glorious 19" to refer to the Muslim hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States on September 11, 2001.