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Hate’ preacher flouts Home Office entry ban with video link

PUBLISHED: 19:44 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 05 October 2010

TOWN Hall bosses have been left embarrassed after an Islamic extremist banned from Britain used a council-run community centre in East London to preach a message of hate.’ An audience of 200 packed the centre in Whitechapel for a political meeting addressed by Omar Bakri Muhammad via telephone and a live internet link from Lebanon. Now the council has been forced to tighten its booking procedures

By David Williams

TOWN Hall bosses have been left embarrassed this week after an Islamic extremist banned from Britain used a council-run community centre in London’s East End to preach a message of hate.’

An audience of 200 packed Whitechapel’s Brady arts centre for a political meeting addressed by Omar Bakri Muhammad via telephone and a live internet link from Lebanon.

Now Tower Hamlets Council has been forced to tighten its booking procedures following the meeting.

But the Town Hall earlier missed the chance to ban the November 2 meeting, it emerged this week.

Posters promoting the meeting prompted council officials to contact Scotland Yard for advice.

But police told them, they had no major concerns about the organisers—and gave the go-ahead, the local authority maintains.

The meeting was led by fundamentalist Anjem Choudary, a firebrand who preaches jihad’ holy war and campaigns for the introduction of Shari’a law in Britain.

booking was made under, saying it was an individual who has used council facilities in the past.

Bakri urged the audience in the 15-minute link from Beirut to “fight and die for Islam” and disobey all non-Shari’a laws, according to press reports in London on Monday.

He also praised Osama bin Laden as “a warrior.”

Syrian-born Bakri came to London as an asylum seeker in 1986.

But he achieved notoriety as the spiritual leader of al-Muhajiroun, a group banned in 2004 for glorifying the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Bakri also left the UK a month after the 7/7 bombings on the London Underground, when 51 commuters died and hundreds more were injured.

He has since been barred from returning to Britain by the Home Secretary.

But the video link-up to the centre has led to furious condemnation at Tower Hamlets council.

Angry Tory Opposition councillor Tim Archer said the meeting had made a mockery of laws banning the glorification of terrorism and incitement to religious hatred.

Booking a political meeting had been too easy, he insisted.

“Tower Hamlets council should be more switched on’,” he said. “But then let it lets in an own goal like this.

“If a legitimate party like us wanted to book the centre for a political meeting, we couldn’t—it’s not to be used by political groups.

“Next time we need a hall, we might as well book it under the name Osama bin Laden’.”

The ruling Labour administration claimed it was “not aware” Bakri was involved when the centre was booked for the meeting, but has now vowed to tighten bookings for council halls in future.

A Town Hall spokeswoman assured: “This means asking those making bookings to list proposed speakers, including any on conference links.”

She added: “We will work with the Home Office and police on agreeing any other improvements to the booking process.”

Tower Hamlets is currently involved in the Government’s agenda on preventing violent extremism—despite this latest set back.


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