UK gov’t bans radical Islamic group

Home Secretary issues order making it a criminal offense to associate with Muslims Against Crusades.

By JONNY PAUL JERUSALEM POST, CORRESPONDENT
November 11, 2011 05:56
3 minute read.
Member of Muslims Against Crusades holds poster

Member of Muslims Against Crusades holds poster. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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LONDON – The British government has banned a radical Islamist group notorious for protests against Armistice Day and responsible for issuing a death threat against an MP who’s supportive of Israeli and Jewish causes.

Home Secretary Theresa May has proscribed the group Muslims Against Crusades on Thursday, making it a criminal offense to have any association with it.

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Last year, MAC burnt poppies, used every year to commemorate members of the armed service who have been killed in the line of duty since World War One, and chanted “British soldiers, burn in hell” near the official commemorative service at London’s Albert Hall. The group planned to repeat the demonstration again this year. Armistice Day is commemorated on November 11 to mark the end of the First World War.

In a statement on Thursday, the Home Secretary said: “I have today laid an Order which will proscribe Muslims Against Crusades from midnight tonight. This means being a member of or supporting the organization will be a criminal offense.”

Though the group has previously reincarnated itself after past banning orders, May said she was satisfied that MAC is “simply another name for an organization already proscribed under a number of names.”

“The organization was proscribed in 2006 for glorifying terrorism and we are clear it should not be able to continue these activities by simply changing its name,” May said.

Set up by extremist preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed, who fled the UK in 2005 and now resides in Lebanon, its previous incarnations include Al Ghurabaa, the Saved Sect, Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK, all of whom have been proscribed by the British government.

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Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the Home Secretary can proscribe an organization if it is concerned in terrorism. For the purposes of the law this means if it “commits or participates in acts of terrorism; prepares for terrorism; promotes or encourages terrorism (including the unlawful glorification of terrorism); or is otherwise concerned in terrorism.”

Proscription makes it a criminal offense for a person to belong to or invite support for MAC. It is also a criminal offense to arrange a meeting in support of a proscribed organization, to wear clothing or to carry articles in public which arouse reasonable suspicion that an individual is a member or supporter of the proscribed organization.

“We are very clear that MAC does not represent British Muslims equally. Many Muslim community groups have spoken out strongly against the organization and its activities,” a government spokesman said on Thursday. “We are equally clear that proscription is based on the government’s assessment of an organization’s concern in terrorism.”

During a constituency meeting at a north London mosque earlier this month, Conservative MP Mike Freer was ushered to safety after receiving death threats from MAC. The group posted the threats on its website encouraging Muslims to attack Freer.

“We warn Mike Freer and every other MP in Britain that their presence is no longer welcomed in any Muslim area and that examples such as Stephen Timms [an MP stabbed by a Muslim constituent at a meeting in London last year] should serve as a piercing reminder of this,” the extremists wrote on their website.

The group held a protest outside the mosque while a number of protesters managed to get into the meeting.

Freer, who is not Jewish, said he was called a “Jewish homosexual pig” and staff at the mosque then decided to take him into an adjacent office for his own protection until police arrived.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Freer said the Home Secretary would not have taken this decision lightly.

“In an open democracy we often have to tolerate abhorrent views. I have no doubt that the Home Secretary will have had information presented to her that led her to this decision. She will have balanced the need for free speech against the threat to public order,” he said.

“I understand that this group is the latest name for other groups that have been banned. If they rename and reappear I am sure that the Home Secretary will continue to monitor their activities,” Freer added.

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