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UAE denies radical cleric Omar Bakri on its soil | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Omar Bakri (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

Omar Bakri (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

Omar Bakri (Asharq Al-Awsat Photo)

DUBAI (AFP) – The United Arab Emirates denied a press report that radical Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, who faces the prospect of treason charges in Britain, was in the country.

&#34He is not in the UAE. He is blacklisted here and cannot enter the country,&#34 Brigadier General Saleh Al Mutawa, police chief in the emirate of Sharjah was quoted as telling the English-language Gulf News.

The paper also quoted unnamed sources in Beirut as saying that the Syrian-born cleric was still in Lebanon.

Asharq al-Awsat had quoted Bakri as saying in a telephone call that he had arrived in the UAE emirate of Sharjah Tuesday after spending three days in Beirut.

The Lebanese passport holder said he would return to Britain to defend himself against the charges leveled at him after visiting a number of Gulf countries to discuss the possibility of teaching Islam and Islamic jurisprudence there.

Bakri told BBC radio on Tuesday he intended to return to London from a holiday in Lebanon, if the British government lets him.

Syrian-born Bakri, founder and spiritual leader of the now defunct Al-Muhajiroun organization, is one of Britain”s best known — many would say notorious — radical Muslim clerics.

He sparked outrage last week when he said he would not inform police if he knew Muslims were planning a bomb attack on a train in Britain. He also supported Muslims who attack British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

British press reports said Monday that Bakri — who went to Britain in 1985 as an asylum-seeker from Saudi Arabia — could face treason charges, if prosecutors and police can agree this week that they can successfully prosecute hardline Islamists as traitors in the courts.

Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday pledged a crackdown on hardline Islamists in the wake of the July 7 suicide bombings on subway trains and a bus in London in which 52 people died and an attempted copycat attack two weeks later.

One of the measures he proposed was a ban on Al-Muhajiroun”s successor group, The Saviour Sect.