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Islamist group defiant as banning move announced; UK & WORLD NEWS: Group says outlawing it may lead to violence.

Byline: Jack Doyle

HOME Secretary Alan Johnson yesterday moved to ban the Islamist group behind a planned march through Wootton Bassett.

From later this week, membership of Anjem Choudary's Islam4UK, and its parent organisation, Al Muhajiroun, will be a criminal offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Mr Johnson said the ban was needed to tackle terrorism and warned the group had tried to escape proscription simply by changing its name. It is already banned under the names Al Ghurabaa and The Saved Sect, and that order will be extended in Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Johnson said: "I have today laid an order which will proscribe Al Muhajiroun, Islam4UK and a number of the other names the organisation goes by. Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly.

"We are clear that an organisation should not be able to circumvent proscription by simply changing its name."

Islam4UK is led by Choudary, who founded Al Muhajiroun in the 1980s with radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammad. His announcement of a planned march through Wootton Bassett provoked outrage last week before the threat was withdrawn on Sunday. The Wiltshire town stops to mark the return of every fallen serviceman repatriated to nearby RAF Lyneham and has come to symbolise the UK's respect for its war dead.

At a London press conference, Choudary warned the ban would force Muslim youth attracted to his group "underground" and could lead to violence.

"You will push people underground.

After that we will have no control over the youth.

"At the present time we can gather the youth together. This is not a threat; this is a warning of what possibly could transpire if you do not allow Muslims to practise their own faith.

"This is the biggest favour the British Government could do for organisations like ours. It will rally the youth to our side."

He added: "I wonder how many 7/7s need to take place before the Government realise that people like Omar Bakri Muhammad, organisations like Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK can control the youth, we can ensure that they manifest their energies through peaceful means?" Bakri Mohammad, who is prevented from entering Britain, told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "If you are going to ban us, I believe you are causing problems and God knows what is going to happen.

"I don't want to see any other 7/ 7 in the UK, but if the ban continues like this it is very strange." Moderate Muslim groups questioned whether the ban would be effective. The Muslim Council of Britain said the Government should concentrate on prosecuting individuals who break the law.

The Terrorism Act 2000 allows groups to be banned which "commit or participate in acts of terrorism, prepare for, promote or encourage terrorism or are otherwise concerned in terrorism". It was amended in 2006 to include organisations which "unlawfully glorify the commission or preparation of acts of terrorism".

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "We have long argued that Islam4UK should be banned, so we welcome this decision."

CAPTION(S):

OUTLAWED: Leader of Islam4UK, Anjem Choudary, centre, after Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced yesterday that the Islamist group will be banned
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 13, 2010
Words:539
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