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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: (FILES) Radical muslim cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, founder and spiritual leader of the now defunct Al-Muhajiroun organisation, gestures while addressing devotees at the 'Rally for Islam' at Trafalgar Square in central London, 25 August 2002. .Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Julia Gregory, Senior reporter
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A community centre has cancelled the booking for a meeting featuring speakers including a man who was jailed for allegedly calling for Muslim soldiers in the British army to be beheaded.
The International Islamic Revival Conference was due to be held at Collingwood Hall in Collingwood Street, Bethnal Green.
Advertised speakers included Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad who has just been arrested in Lebanon after being found guilty in his absence by a court there of incitement to murder, possession of arms and explosives and theft.
Two years ago he addressed a 200-strong audience at the Brady Centre in Whitechapel via an internet link from Lebanon provoking concern at the town hall which vowed to tighten up its bookings for council halls.
Other speakers scheduled for this month’s event included Sheikh Anjem Choudary who caused uproar with his plans to carry empty coffins through the town of Wootton Bassett where the bodies of servicemen are returned from Afghanistan.
Another speaker Abu Izzadeen was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after footage emerged of him calling for British Muslim soldiers to be beheaded.
Organisers of the conference were unavailable for comment today.
The event scheduled for November 27 was free and open to Muslims and non Muslims.
In a disclaimer posted on the event website said: “Organisers of Islamic Revival 2010 would like to reiterate that this event has no affiliation to any particular organisation or group. This is an independent event aimed at bringing together speakers of various backgrounds, together on one platform. Organisers of Islamic Revival 2010 do not necessarily share all the views expressed by every speaker.”
In a statement Tower Hamlets council said: “We understand the Tenant and Residents Association has informed the organisers that the booking has been cancelled. The premises is managed by a local tenants residents association who were unaware of the individual and the booking has been cancelled before this enquiry was raised.
“We’ll be working with this TRA and others to try and assist them in identifying who the individuals and organisations are behind the private bookings to try and avoid this happening again.”
No one from the TRA was available to comment.
Conservative group leader Peter Golds said: “What sort of people are taking these bookings? Clearly there have to be string procedures that are going on. You just have to look at the cast list, it’s not anything that you would want and how can you entertain serious discussions.”
He said this kind of event offends people from across the community.
Two years ago BNP activists managed to secure a room at the church hall at St John in Bethnal Green by saying they wanted it for a book group meeting.
When he was tipped off the Rev Alan Green asked them to leave and called the police when they refused.