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UK-Based Islamic Group to Stage Demonstration for Jailed Imam | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Islamic group, Supporters of Shariah, headed by Egyptian cleric Abu Hamza al Masri, until his arrest in May 2004, has announced it will stage a demonstration, on 4 th July, the day his trial begins, outside Belmarsh Prison. It also said representatives from several Western legal organizations will take part in the peaceful gathering, in support of the jailed sheikh.

A spokesman for Bow Street Magistrates Court told Asharq Al Awsat that Abu Hamza, will be tried under British antiterrorism laws and will take part, by video link form his cell, in a preliminary session on 23rd June.

Meanwhile, Abu Hamza is preparing his own defense to charges he incited the killing of Jews between 1999 and 2004 and is spending his days praying. According to Islamist Hani al Sibai, Director of al Maqrizi Studies Center, in London , the jailed cleric is reciting the “prayer of the sufferer”. His family said he was reciting another prayer, that of the story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah) who was swallowed by a whale but saved by God, in the darkness of Belmarsh.

The Egyptian-born cleric is facing 10 charges of incitement to kill and four charges of adopting threatening, harmful, and offensive behavior and inciting hatred. In a sermon outside the Finsbury Park Mosque, in North London , the cleric voiced his support for Osama bin Laden.

The mosque has remained shut since a raid by Scotland Yard and British intelligence officers in January 2003. A few months later, in April, the authorities started procedures to revoke Abu Hamzah’s British citizenship after the UK and US governments became worried about his fiery speeches praising al Qaeda and bin Laden. The cleric denies having any official links with the militant network.

Al Sibai, who helped prepare documents for the defense, said, in a telephone conversation, “Abu Hamzah will emphasize during the trial next month that he didn’t criticize anyone in particular, such as the British public. Instead, he spoke in general terms of the West’s policies against Islam and its followers.” The trial will also reveal that Abu Hamzah held a number of meetings with representatives of Christianity and Judaism in his mosque.