Blunkett, under mounting pressure to expel the Egyptian-born Shaikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, said on Wednesday his talks while on a tour of Britain would be scrutinised for any indications of intolerance.

"We will certainly monitor what he has got to say and what he has got to do," Blunkett told BBC radio on the same day he said he planned to legislate to stop attacks on the Muslim religion in the wake of the 11 September incident.

Newspapers and parliamentarians from all parties have attacked the scholar and urged the government to deport him.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the Qatar-based al-Qaradawi would not be allowed to overstep the line, but that any case to expel the scholar, who has been barred from the United States since 1999, would have to be watertight.

"We will keep it under very strict review. There are rules that have to be applied and those rules will be applied to this particular individual," he said during his weekly question and answer session in parliament.

"We are totally opposed, as is everyone, to people coming to this country and using it as a platform for views in support of terrorism or extremism of any sort at all.

Condemnation

"We have to be sure, however, that if someone is excluded from this country, that they are excluded in a way that is lawful," he added.

"We will keep it under very strict review. There are rules that have to be applied and those rules will be applied to this particular individual"

Tony Blair,
UK Prime Minister

Shaikh al-Qaradawi is revered throughout the Muslim world for his intellectual rigour and contextualised theological reasoning.

A prominent poet, writer and public speaker, al-Qaradawi has a reputation for his support of Palestinians in their resistance to Israeli occupation but has condemned acts such as the Bali incident.

He not only condemned the 11 September deaths but urged  Muslims to assist by at least donating blood to help the victims.

The Muslim Council of Britain, an umbrella organisation representing some 400 different bodies, condemned media attacks on al-Qaradawi, describing him as "a voice of reason, understanding and wisdom".