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EDITIONS
 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 14:28 GMT
Mosque closed to worshippers
Police officer outside mosque
The mosque has been closed since Monday
Sheikh Abu Hamza has led prayers outside the mosque in north London raided by police earlier in the week.

The gates of the mosque in Finsbury Park remained closed on Friday, a day after officers completed their search of the premises.

Sheikh Hamza protested to about 150 people gathered that the police had "vandalised" the building.

The North London Central Mosque Trust boarded up the building and directed people to use a Muslim centre nearby.

Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza led prayers

But Sheikh Hamza held an impromptu prayer service in the street and vowed this would happen every Friday.

It is the first day in four years he has not held prayers in the mosque and he accused the police of wrecking the building during the search.

He said: "Who can be more evil than those who tried to close down places of worship? This kind of tyranny should finish."

The Charity Commission has threatened to formally expel the sheikh from the mosque, claiming he and his supporters are ignoring the wishes of the trustees.

Ricin Inquiry
5 Jan: Five arrested and charged after raid in Wood Green, London
15 Jan: Two still held after raid in Crumpsall, Manchester
20 Jan: Seven arrested after Finsbury Park mosque search
21 Jan: One arrested in north-east London

*others have been arrested and either released or face non-terrorist charges
Seven people were arrested on Monday during a raid by anti-terrorist officers.

Four are still being held under the Terrorism Act, two are being held on suspected immigration offences, and one has been released.

Six are of north African origin and one is from eastern Europe.

On Thursday police made another arrest in connection with the discovery of ricin during a raid in north London earlier this month.

The 31-year-old north African was held under the Terrorism Act 2000, Scotland Yard said.

Poison

It is part of the continuing inquiry in London and elsewhere in the UK.

The arrest is linked to the discovery of traces of the potentially fatal poison ricin during a raid on a flat in Wood Green, north London, on 5 January.

That triggered a police raid in Manchester in which a detective was stabbed to death.

A number of people are already in custody or charged with terror offences over the alleged ricin plot.


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