London mosque's reopening blocked

Supporters of the Muslim preacher Imam Abu Hamza al-Masri - detained in Britain since May following an extradition request from the United States - have prevented the mosque where he used to preach from reopening.

    Abu Hamza's followers outside the mosque at Finsbury Park

    Leaders at the mosque in Finsbury Park, a neighbourhood in northwest London, abandoned plans to open up the building when confronted by scores of Hamza followers praying in front of it on Friday.

    On 6 August several hundred supporters disrupted the official reopening of the mosque, closed last year after an anti-terrorist raid.

    Egyptian-born Hamza, 46, is facing extradition to the United States on 11 "terrorism"-related charges, notably regarding a hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 and an alleged al-Qaida training camp operating in Oregon in 1999-2000. His hearing was adjourned in July until mid-October.

    The mosque was shut down early last year in what was seen as a British Government response to Abu Hamza's outspoken sermons. Unfazed, the hook-handed radical cleric continued to preach on the sidewalk outside the premises.

    Apart from the extradition proceedings, Abu Hamza - currently held at a prison in southeast London - is challenging an attempt by London to withdraw the British citizenship he acquired through marriage in the early 1990s.

    His Egyptian citizenship was revoked in May this year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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