UK to ban Islamist group

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Islam4UK, an Islamist group that was intending to march through a British town known for honouring fallen troops, is to be banned by the government today under counterterrorism laws.

"I have [...] laid an order which will proscribe Al-Muhajiroun, Islam4UK, and a number of the other names the organisation goes by," said the home secretary, Alan Johnson. Johnson said that the group had tried to escape the ban by changing its name, and said that the move was needed in order to "tackle terrorism."

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But Islam4UK leader Anjem Choudary said that the ban, made under the Terrorism Act 2000, is unfair because the group is not involved in violent activity. "We are an ideological and political movement. We do not engage in any military activities or any violence," he said to VOA News.

Islam4UK was originally founded in the 1980s under the name al-Muhajiroun. The tiny Islamic group has since won much publicity in Britain by threatening to carry out controversial demonstrations.

Last week, the group announced plans for a march through Wooton Basset, a small market town where British soldiers killed in Afghanistan are honored, but the demonstration was called off earlier today.

According to the UK Home Office, fifteen people have been convicted of criminal offenses related to banned groups since 2001. A total of 45 groups are listed on the Home Office Web site as banned under the Terrorism Act.