[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 23:29 GMT
Man apologises for bomber protest
Omar Khayam dressed as a suicide bomber
Omar Khayam dressed as a suicide bomber in London

A man who dressed as a suicide bomber during a protest about cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad has apologised for his behaviour.

Omar Khayam, 22, from Bedford, "wholeheartedly" apologised to the families of the 7 July bombings.

He likened his own "insensitive" behaviour to the "provocative and controversial" cartoon publication.

Khayam is a convicted drug dealer who was free from jail on licence at the time of the protest.

He was given five-and-a-half years in prison for dealing heroin and cocaine.

Scotland Yard said Mr Khayam would be interviewed informally over the protest before they decide whether to investigate.

"This man was at a political demonstration and he was clearly, we believe, making a point," said Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Steve House.

"None of the officers there looked at him and perceived him to be a risk to the public."

No protesters at the demonstration outside the Danish embassy on Friday and Saturday - over cartoons first printed in a Danish newspaper - were arrested.

Downing Street has said the behaviour of some Muslim protesters in London was "completely unacceptable".

But Assistant Commissioner House said the decision had prevented the situation becoming "inflamed" and helped London avoid the destruction seen in other cities.

He said prosecutions could follow once picture and video evidence taken at the scene was viewed.

"If we look at the people with placards and decide there is an offence, a stand-out offence there, then these people could be subject to arrest and interview under arrest," he added.

Support

Khayam read out his apology outside his Bedford home.

"I found the pictures deeply offensive as a Muslim and I felt the Danish newspaper had been provocative and controversial, deeply offensive and insensitive.

"Just because we have the right of free speech and a free media, it does not mean we may say and do as we please and not take into account the effect it will have on others.

Omar Khayam
I understand it was wrong, unjustified and insensitive of me to protest in this way
Omar Khayam

"But by me dressing the way I did, I did just that, exactly the same as the Danish newspaper, if not worse."

He said his method of protest had offended many people, especially the families of the July bombing victims.

"This was not my intention.

"What happened in July was a tragedy and un-Islamic.

"I do not condone these murderous acts, do not support terrorism or extremism and would like to apologise unreservedly and wholeheartedly to the families of the victims."

He added: "I understand it was wrong, unjustified and insensitive of me to protest in this way."

Asif Nadim, from a Bedford mosque, said the Muslim community distanced itself from Khayam's actions and supported his apology.

"Looking at this from an Islamic point of view, this was totally un-Islamic.

"We distance ourselves from the act that he has actually caused and the pain that he has caused for the families of the victims of the London bombings."

He said Khayam was "very, very ashamed" of his actions and hoped that it would be the end of the matter.

Violent demonstrations

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said any decisions on arrest and prosecution were "properly matters for the police and prosecution authorities".

He said that the reaction to the cartoons across Britain had "in general been respectful and restrained".

Protests have continued throughout the world, with five people being killed in Afghanistan, and a boy killed in Somalia when demonstrations turned violent.

Rallies have also taken place in India, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran and Gaza, following attacks on Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon over the weekend.

The cartoons were first published in a Danish newspaper last year and republished in Europe last week.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See scenes from the protest in London on Friday



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific