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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Muslim cleric removed from post
Sheikh Abu Hamza
Sheikh Abu Hamza insists he is going to stay on
Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri has been formally suspended by the Charity Commission from his position at a London mosque.

But Mr Hamza says he will not leave his post and denies he has resigned as leader of the Finsbury Park mosque.

The commission says the action was taken against the fundamentalist cleric because of "inflammatory statements" made by the preacher.

It says it has jurisdiction over the North London Central Mosque where Mr Hamza is a cleric because it is a registered charity.

We are concerned about the reputation of the charity and that the public would link it with terrorism

Charity Commission spokeswoman

Officials cited a sermon he preached by Mr Hamza on 12 October, saying the action had been taken due to "a number of political and inflammatory statements made at the mosque by Mr Hamza".

However, the cleric said that he did not believe the commission could remove him and insisted that he would continue to preach.

"The reality is that I have not been employed by them and the reality that the population of the mosque are actually in favour of my teaching and they find it compatible with Islam," he said.

Permanent removal

Officials at the commission wrote to Mr Hamza earlier this month, indicating that they intended to suspend him.

Director of Operations Simon Gillespie said that Mr Hamza was invited to make representations against the decision by 22 April.

Mr Hamza's solicitors wrote to the commission but it decided to proceed with the suspension, which is a temporary measure but could become permanent.

A spokeswoman said: "It is not his right to practice his religion that we are contesting.

"We are concerned about the reputation of the charity and that the public would link it with terrorism."

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23 Jan 02 | UK
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