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BBC's Jon Silverman
"A legal definition of what constitutes a threat to national security"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Muslim cleric faces deportation
Cleric
Shafiq ur Rehman (second from right) will not be deported immediately
A Muslim cleric labelled a threat to national security by the home secretary faces deportation after losing his case in the Court of Appeal.

Shafiq ur Rehman, 29, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was accused by Jack Straw of helping to recruit and fund British volunteers to fight against the Indian Government in Kashmir.

The home secretary took the case to the Court of Appeal after his decision in 1997 to deport Mr Rehman to Pakistan was overturned by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission last September.



This court has changed the meaning of national security

Shafiq ur Rehman
The court decided on Tuesday the case should go back before the SIAC for redetermination but granted permission for an appeal to the House of Lords for a ruling on the scope of the meaning of national security.

Mr Rehman, speaking after the ruling, said: "I am very upset. My case was heard by the commission and I won. Now this court has changed the meaning of national security."

Security service investigators said Mr Rehman, who came to the UK in 1993, had raised funds for the Lashkar-e Toiba group, which is fighting Indian forces in Kashmir, while working in Britain for its political wing, MDI.

'Islamaphobia'

Mr Rehman was stopped by immigration officials at Manchester Airport when he returned to the UK after a visit to Pakistan in December 1997.

Security officers say they found photographs of weaponry in his luggage..

But Mr Rehman said he had been singled out for expulsion after an unsuccessful attempt to recruit him as an informer by MI5.

The cleric admitted providing cash for MDI - Centre for Invitation to the Divine Teachings - but said the money was for building schools and hospitals in Pakistan.


Mr Rehman
Mr Rehman spoke of his disappointment after the hearing
Sibghat Kadri QC, representing Mr Rehman, told the appeal judges, headed by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, that their judgment had redefined the meaning of national security.

"Your lordships' decision may have put the clock back, giving carte blanche to the secretary of state to decide what is national security," he said.

Mr Kadri said Mr Straw was suffering from "Islamaphobia".

"Your lordships seem to be saying that from now on, any non-British citizen must prove they are innocent of posing any threat of damage to Britain," he said.

Lord Woolf said he was granting leave to appeal to the House of Lords solely on the issue of the "question of the ambit of national security".

Mr Rehman was the first person to have his case considered by the SIAC which ruled that Mr Straw had failed to show that Mr Rehman was a threat to national security.

The appeal, which was heard by the court last month, is seen as a landmark case by immigration experts.

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