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Monday, 9 October, 2000, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Imam to appeal to Lords
Shafiq Ur Rehman
Shafiq Ur Rehman wants to remain in Britain
A Pakistani cleric accused of recruiting British Muslims to fight in Kashmir has been told he can take his fight against deportation to the House of Lords.

Home Secretary Jack Straw had ordered Shafiq Ur Rehman, of Oldham, Greater Manchester, to be deported to Pakistan in 1997 on the grounds that he was a threat to national security because he supported terrorism.

Mr Rehman's lawyers claimed the move was punishment for refusing MI5 attempts to recruit him as an agent.

The home secretary's decision was overturned by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in September 1999.

But in May this year the Court of Appeal ordered the commission to reconsider.

On Monday three law lords, Lords Steyn, Hope and Millett, gave the 29-year-old imam permission to challenge the Court of Appeal's decision at the highest court in the land.

Strong passions

The case has aroused strong passions amongst British Muslims.

Mr Rehman and his wife have two children who were born in the UK.

The outcome of this case will affect a number of other deportations that the government wishes to make on grounds of national security.

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

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

Security officers said they found photographs of weapons in his luggage.

He admitted giving money to MDI but said the money was for building schools and hospitals in Pakistan.

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