Member of Muslims Against Crusades holds poster.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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.
Secretary Theresa May has proscribed the group Muslims Against Crusades on
Thursday, making it a criminal offense to have any association with
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.
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
“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
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.
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
“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.