London, Asharq Al-Awsat– Omar Bakri Mohammed, the firebrand cleric and former head of al Muhajiroun and al Ghurabaa, who was barred from entering Britain, after inciting violence, said he was currently living in the mountains of Aley, in relative safety, after moving there from al Naama, south of Beirut.
He told Asharq Al Awsat on Friday he has no plans to return to London, where his family still lives.
Reports in the British media said Bakri had failed to board a British naval ship evacuating British nationals from Lebanon. “Their answer was… if you do not hold a British passport, you can’t board the ship.”
He said that his six children and four grandchildren, all British nationals, have sent an urgent request to the Foreign Office, in order to intervene and ensure he is taken to Cyprus to meet his family. Bakri stressed that his trip will stop in Cyprus, because he willingly left London, without pressure, after the July attacks last year, and will not return. He holds a Lebanese passport that would enable him to travel freely to and from Larnaca airport.
The Syrian-born Bakri left London to Beirut in August 2005, saying he was going on vacation, after British Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to silence extremists who incite violence.
“I know I am not wanted in Britain… but it is my right just like anyone else to look for safety.”
Bakri said he would never stand trial in Britain, “because if he is detained and put to trial, the Muslim individual would be under duress.”
More than 1300 British nationals reached Cyprus on Friday coming from Lebanon, from which they were evacuated by the British navy.
After disembarking from HMS Bulwark, which arrived in the port of Limassol, the headed towards the Akrotiri British base before traveling to the United Kingdom.