Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BOMBS: CLERIC BLAMES BRITAIN; 'Fault of Voters for Electing Blair'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

BOMBS: CLERIC BLAMES BRITAIN; 'Fault of Voters for Electing Blair'

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT MENDICK

A RADICAL Muslim cleric today blamed British voters for the London bombings.

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed told the Evening Standard that re-electing Tony Blair had led to the Tube and bus attacks.

Bakri's inflammatory comments were reinforced by his right-hand man, Anjem Choudary, who accused Mr Blair of being a "tyrant" who had "blood on his hands".

Ken Livingstone also risked controversy by suggesting that decades of western intervention in the Middle East may have inspired the bombers.

In his first interview since the 7 July bombings, Bakri, 45, denounced the London-attacks but insisted that Britain had brought the atrocity on itself.

Bakri said: "The British people did not make enough effort to stop its own government committing its own atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They showed Tony Blair full support when they elected him Prime Minister again, even after he waged the latest war against Iraq."

Bakri, a father of seven living in Edmonton, accused Mr Blair and those who voted for him of helping to create a "cycle of bloodshed". He said Britain had failed to learn lessons from 9/11 and from the Madrid bombings last year.

This afternoon, after meeting mainstream Muslim leaders at Downing Street, Mr Blair condemned the "twisted logic" of those who defend terrorism anywhere in the world. He added: "They have got no place, such people, in our country."

Mr Blair dismissed claims that Iraq made Britain more of a target. "Of course these terrorists will use Iraq as an excuse," he said, adding that before September 11 the "excuse" was American policy on Israel.

Mr Choudary, a former leader of the extreme Islamic group al-Muhajiroun - set up in Britain by Bakri - said no selfrespecting Muslim should be sitting down with the Government in talks. He also told Radio4's Today programme that the "real terrorists" are the British "regime" and police for trying to divide the Muslim community into moderates and extremists.

Mr Choudary said that no such distinction existed in Islam, adding: "Either you are a practising Muslim or a non-practising Muslim."

He added: "I believe another 7/7 is a very real possibility. The concept of self-sacrifice operations is as old as the divine text."

Bakri has earned the nickname the "Tottenham Ayatollah" during the 20 years he has lived in north London.

As recently as January, the Syrian-born preacher was urging young Muslims to join al Qaeda.

He once called the 9/11 hijackers "the magnificent 19".

His latest comments will add to growing pressure on the Government to deport the cleric, who came to Britain in 1985 claiming asylum.

At a Downing Street briefing today, the Prime Minister's official spokesman hinted that the new proposed law banning " indirect incitement" of terrorism could be used against such remarks. …

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