Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Omar Bakri: Still Banned in the UK | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Asharq Al-Awsat has obtained a copy of the private correspondence between Lebanese Islamist Omar Bakri Muhammad Fustuq, who lives in Lebanon, and the British embassy in Beirut.

The embassy has categorically rejected granting him an entry visa to visit his six children and wife who live in the British capital, London, until further notice. A letter issued by the British embassy in Beirut, a copy of which was received by Asharq Al Awsat from Bakri by e-mail, stated, “The ban on your entry into Britain remains valid, as it has been since the decision of the British Home Office on 12 August 2005.” the statement also said, “Any application you will submit in the future to enter Britain will be like the previous one. Most likely, you will not be allowed to enter Britain.”

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Bakri in a telephone interview in which he stated that “The British embassy has even refused to give me an appointment for an interview. For this reason, all contacts were made by telephone and e-mail. I had expected that the British authorities would refuse to grant me a visa for a short visit in order to be next to my daughter during her surgery, in view of the embarrassment that my visit may cause, if it is accompanied by a media clamor.”

Bakri also revealed that members of the British media have come to Beirut and monitored the moves and contacts he made to get an appointment to visit the consulate.

The Lebanese Islamist expressed the belief that the real reason for banning him from entering Britain is his religious position, namely that, “the British, US, and other foreign forces in Afghanistan and Iraq are occupier and enemy forces. The Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq have the right to, and even should, confront and resist them.”

Bakri, founder of the Banned fundamentalist groups Al-Muhajiroun and Al-Guraba [the Strangers] in Britain, left London for Beirut in the wake of the London terrorist attacks in July 2005, which claimed the lives of 52 people.

Bakri claims that the British Security Service, MI5, tried to pressure him into issuing a fatwa [religious ruling], which stated that the occupying forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are friendly forces and that fighting them is prohibited.

He added that, “This caused harassment to me and my peaceful dawa (preaching) activities, which opposed its [Britain’s] domestic and foreign policy against the Muslims and its flagrant support for the State of Israel and America against the issues of Muslims.”

Bakri has outraged many with his statements over the years including “the Banner of Islam Will Fly over Buckingham Palace,” as well as labeling the September 11 hijackers as the “Magnificent 19” on the second anniversary of the attacks.

Bakri also revealed that noted that the British media contacted him after Asharq Al-Awsat published a report in last month about his visa application to visit his daughter and that all their questions revolved around the same topic: Is he going to abandon his stands and statements? He told them that his stands and statements are based on the Shariaa and that the purpose of them is to explain the Shariaa rules, even if at the expense of his own security and interest.

Bakr Added that, “Let the Arabs and foreigners, including Muslims in particular and non-Muslims in general, know that no matter how long they live in the West; no matter how much they multiply and give birth to children in the West; and no matter how much they integrate into the Western or Eastern communities, they will continue to be third-class citizens or lower. The Crusader and racist view, which considers them as inferior, will also continue.”