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Thursday, 18 April, 2002, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Diplomat censured over bomb poem
18-year-old suicide bomber Ayat Ahkras, whom Saudi ambassador to the UK Ghazi Algosaibi praised in a poem
"Heaven opened" for bomber Ayat Akhras, said poem
The Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UK faces censure from the British government after writing a poem in praise of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Ambassador Dr Ghazi Algosaibi, a well-known poet in the Arab world, wrote that suicide bombers "died to honour God's word" in a short verse published in the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Hayat last week.

Ghazi Algosaibi
Ghazi Algosaibi: Not "rebuked" or "reprimanded"
The poem, entitled The Martyrs, praised Ayat Akhras, an 18-year-old Palestinian who blew herself up in a Jerusalem supermarket on 29 March, killing two Israelis and wounding 25.

"Doors of heaven are opened for her," wrote Dr Algosaibi, who has been Saudi Arabia's ambassador in London for more than a decade.

A Foreign Office spokesman said a senior official would be speaking to the ambassador.

"We regard suicide bombings as a form of terrorism, and we would like to make our views known to the Saudi ambassador," said a spokesman.

'No rebuke'

However, he added that no further action would be taken.

"We're not saying reprimand or rebuke. We don't intend to take the matter any further."

Dr Algosaibi's poem also criticised the United States, referring to "a White House whose heart is filled with darkness."

The poem drew strong criticism from Jewish groups.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it was "appalled" by the poem and planned to send a letter of protest to the ambassador.

"It is deeply disturbing that a senior Saudi diplomat publicly supports the continued terrorist bombing campaign," said spokeswoman Fiona Macaulay.

"This is clearly condoning violence against Jewish people, and is a completely unacceptable position for the ambassador to take."

See also:

29 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Jerusalem supermarket bomb
25 Sep 01 | Middle East
Saudi Arabia warns of West-Islam split
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