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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 18:06 GMT
Hamza trial 'politically driven'
Abu Hamza (Image by court artist Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Mr Abu Hamza told the court he was sick and tired.
Muslim preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri has alleged his trial for soliciting murder is politically motivated.

Under cross-examination, he accused prosecutors of attempting to try "an idea" and make a case from nothing.

The cleric told the Old Bailey he was being portrayed as a "monomaniac" who had sought to direct people to act in certain ways.

Mr Abu Hamza, 47, from west London, denies 15 charges, including soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred.

But prosecutor David Perry told the Old Bailey that it was Mr Abu Hamza who had the means to help people learn to use weapons against enemies of their faith.

Opening the cross-examination of Mr Abu Hamza, Mr Perry said that the defendant knew what he was doing when he told his audiences to hate Jews or referred to weapons such as hand grenades.

I'm not trying to portray you at all, Sheikh Hamza
David Perry
Prosecutor

Mr Abu Hamza initially refused to agree to give simple answers to questions on his sermons, telling Mr Perry that things were never that simple.

Later he complained that he was "sick and tired" of being cut off mid-sentence.

"These are ideas," said the cleric. "Yes and no does not help at all. The problem is that you are describing ideas and you want to prosecute me because of these ideas.

"You are trying to portray me as a monomaniac who says 'do this and do that' and they say 'yes sir'. That's not me, that's not Islam."

"I'm not trying to portray you at all, Sheikh Hamza," said Mr Perry.

Jihad encyclopaedia

Earlier in the trial, the court heard that police found an 11-volume set of books called the Encyclopaedia of Afghan Jihad at Mr Abu Hamza's home.

Let's face it, everyone knows my case is politically motivated
Mr Abu Hamza

Included in the books were instructions for making bombs, largely drawn from western military sources, and suggestions of targets such as Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower.

Referring to one sermon in which the preacher berated his audience for not knowing the different between a potato and a hand grenade, Mr Perry suggested that Mr Abu Hamza had the means to teach them.

But Mr Abu Hamza said he had not seen these instructions himself - and that a courtroom argument over whether he had the volume on bombs at his home was a police ploy to make his case look worse than it was.

"They are either not as good as they claim they are or they do deliberate mistakes," said the cleric.

"Let's face it, everyone knows my case is politically motivated."

'Not a pope'

Growing frustrated amid sharp questioning, Mr Abu Hamza told Mr Perry that he was "not Shakespeare, I make 100 mistakes in a sentence" and could not be held accountable for every single phrase in speeches or sermons made many years ago.

Mr Hamza said that although he was a preacher with a position of responsibility, he was "not a pope" and that anyone in his audience was free to disagree with him under the terms of Islam.

God is not racist - and thank God for that
Mr Abu Hamza

What was important, he said, was that the tone and the ideas were koranically correct.

"Does this talk represent your true beliefs?" asked Mr Perry, turning to one particular sermon, "The whole thing is about Jews being the enemy of Islam The noun you use is Jews. Not Zionists, you say Jews, the dirty Jews."

"But I say Jews who are doing these kinds of actions and things [against Muslims]. I am saying there are different types of Jews."

"Are Jews to be hated?" asked Mr Perry?

"No, God is not racist - and thank God for that."

The case was adjourned until Tuesday.


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