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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 11:56 GMT
Muslim cleric faces expulsion
Abu Hamza
Mr Hamza has vowed to continue preaching
Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri is facing expulsion by the Charity Commission from his position at a London mosque.

Mr Hamza has been told he must meet a Monday deadline to answer complaints that he has abused his position at the Finsbury Park mosque.

The mosque is run by the North London Central Mosque Trust and Mr Hamza is an officer of the charity.

He is accused of making inflammatory sermons and using the mosque for political means, but has vowed to stay on.

The commission, which regulates charities, has sent Mr Hamza a Provisional Removal Order telling him he must leave the mosque.

The order would allow him to still pray at the mosque, but not preach.
A number of people have had to choose another place of worship

Antony Robbins, Charity Commission

Antony Robbins, a commission spokesman told BBC News Online: "His statements whilst acting as an agent of the charity have been inflammatory and inconsistent with the objectives of the mosque as a charity."

Mr Robbins said Mr Hamza had allowed the mosque to be used by "non-charitable, political organisations".

'Driven away'

The cleric's actions had brought the name of the charity into disrepute and created an "atmosphere" which was driving people away, he added.

"We want the worshippers to come back to the mosque.

"A number of people have had to choose another place of worship."

The controversial cleric was suspended from the post in April because of "inflammatory statements" he made in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

I'm here to serve my religion, to do my duty and to serve the community which has chosen me to do the work

Abu Hamza

But he continued to preach there and insisted he had the backing of the mosque's worshippers.

Responding to the latest warning, Mr Hamza told Reuters news agency: "I'll just carry on preaching until they stop me physically, by putting me in prison.

"As long as I'm free I'll continue preaching.

"I'm here to serve my religion, to do my duty and to serve the community which has chosen me to do the work."

The Egyptian national was accused by the commission of using the mosque as a base to preach his radical brand of Islam.

Police 'powerless'

But the Home Office and the police have said he has not broken the law and they are powerless to act.

Richard Reid, who confessed to trying to blow up a plane, and Zacharias Moussaoui, charged in connection with the September 11 , both attended the mosque for a time.

The new order was issued on 16 December and has a 30-day deadline for Mr Hamza or his lawyers to answer.

The commission will examine the evidence before formally making its decision, probably within weeks.

If he continues to give sermons, the commission can obtain an order from the courts which can be enforced by police.


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See also:

17 Jan 03 | UK
26 Apr 02 | England
23 Jan 02 | UK
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