Rush to put in measures barring Bakri from Britain
Thursday 11 August 2005
Mr Bakri provoked outrage last week by saying he would not inform police if he knew Muslim extremists were planning a bomb attack in Britain. He left for Beirut at the weekend amid suggestions that he could be tried for treason but the Government has since made clear there is no prospect of that.
Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, is considering using special powers to exclude the leader of al-Muhajiroun from re-entering Britain in the next few days. Mr Clarke could decide that following the cleric's comments, which include reportedly describing the July 7 suicide bombers as "the fantastic four", that his presence in this country was not for the public good.
The Home Office is consulting the Muslim community about bringing in further measures to exclude or deport non-British citizens deemed to pose an " indirect threat" of terrorism.
The Government is known to be reluctant to exclude Mr Bakri before the consultation period is over on 19 August.
After that period the Home Secretary is preparing to use powers to deport Mr Bakri should he return to the UK. His indefinite leave to remain in Britain would also be revoked.
The Syrian-born cleric, 46, is at the centre of a political row, after John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, said that the Government had no powers to deal with the extremist and he was able to come and go from Britain when he wanted. Further resentment has been caused with the disclosure that Mr Bakri, who has a wife and seven children living in the UK, is due to have a heart operation on the NHS in the next few months.
Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, met interfaith groups yesterday to discuss the consultation paper which lists "unacceptable behaviour" that could spark deportation or exclusion.
The list includes those who foment terrorism or seek to incite others to terrorism by public speaking including preaching, producing or publishing material or running a website.
Muhammad Abdul Bari, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he would strongly urge the Government to extend the consultation period.
* A man has been charged in connection with the failed 21 July suicide attacks in London.
Abdul Sharif, 28, was charged last night under the Terrorism Act with failing to disclose information about Hussain Osman, who is alleged to have tried to blow up a Tube train near Shepherd's Bush station. Mr Sharif, of Morrell House, Crossford St, Brixton, south London will appear before Bow Street Magistrates today. Nine other people are also due to appear at Bow Street in connection with the failed attacks.
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