Sheikh ‘bullied’ mosque trustees

BBC, Jan. 27, 2003

Controversial Islamic preacher Sheikh recent police raid, a trustee has told the BBC.

Abdul Kadir Burkatulla, from the North London Central Mosque Trust, said the mosque would remain closed for at least three months while it was cleaned of “physical and spiritual filth”.

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Mr Burkatulla told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme Sheikh Abu Hamza and his associates had bullied and intimidated the trustees.

The trustee said: “He used intimidation, verbal abuse and even physical use of force to exclude trustees, to bully them and intimidate them to surrender to certain of his demands.

“They have been threatened verbally and even assaulted in the mosque to the extent that they are too frightened to speak.”

Mr Burkatulla said he had mixed feelings about the police raid which shut the mosque last week.

‘Spiritual filth’

He said: “We welcome this opportunity to cleanse the mosque from the physical filth and from the spiritual filth that has been spilled over by some unwanted people.”

Mr Burkatulla added: “The worshipful can come, but those known to be mischief-makers, they can be excluded and they will be excluded.

“I don’t think any other mosque will now allow Abu Hamza to come as a preacher there, anywhere.”

Mosque arrests

Only one of the seven people arrested during a raid at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London is still being held under the Terrorism Act.

Four of those held since last Monday are now in custody for suspected immigration offences and one has been released.

The seventh man, Samir Asli, appeared in court on Monday charged with possessing articles for terrorist purposes.

The raid at the mosque by about 150 officers followed the discovery of traces of the potentially fatal poison ricin during a raid on a flat in Wood Green on 5 January.

The mosque has been closed and boarded up since the police search was completed.

Six of those arrested were of north African origin and one is from eastern Europe.

The two men still being questioned on suspicion of terrorism-related offences are north Africans aged 29 and 31.

Last Friday Sheikh Abu Hamza, who had been based at the mosque, led prayers outside.

Sheikh Abu Hamza protested to about 150 people that the police had “vandalised” the building.

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