Time to leave Europe, cleric urges Muslims

Firebrand Islamist cleric Omar Bakri Mohammedbanned from Britain since August — has urged Muslims to leave Europe.

Mr Bakri, a Lebanese national of Syrian origin who was living in Britain since 1986, was interviewed by France 3 television in Beirut.

He has been based there since the British Government stripped him of his residency in its campaign to rein in radical Islamist leaders.

“There must be two distinct camps and so all Muslims must leave Europe,” said Mr Bakri, declaring that he was convinced “the Islamic flag will fly one day over Downing Street”.

Mr Bakri is head of the extremist movement Al Muhajirun — meaning the emigrants in Arabic.

Last January he said a “pact” between the British Government and Muslims was “violated” because London started hunting for radicals after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and later sent British forces to join the US-led intervention in Iraq.

Mr Bakri famously praised the September 11 hijackers as “magnificent”. He triggered more outrage after the July 7 bombings in London when he said he would never tip off police if he knew a Muslim was about to carry out an attack.

In the TV interview to be shown today, Mr Bakri went further, saying the backgrounds of the four suicide bombers responsible for the July 7 attacks prove that the message of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden “has reached the moderate communities”.

He also called on converts to Islam to join him in Beirut “to learn Arabic before returning to Europe”.

Last month he gave an interview upon his return to Beirut with Lebanon’s Future TV in which he condemned the “massacre” of innocent people and denied any links to al-Qaida.

“We cannot support the massacre of innocents. We are against killing innocent people whether in New York, Spain or London, but we are also against the massacre of innocents in Iraq, in Palestine and elsewhere.”

He also said he intended to stay in Lebanon and move his family there, and called on all Islamist militants in exile to return to their countries.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
AFP, via the Herald Sun, France
Sep. 26, 2005

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)