Tue, Apr 27, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Chorus of Muslim radicalism rising in Europe

ENEMY WITHIN In Muslim communities across the continent, people are turning against their adoptive homes and becoming increasingly open about their militancy

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , LUTON, UK

Stoking that anger are some of the same Islamic clerics who preached violence and martyrdom before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

On Friday, Abu Hamza, the cleric accused of tutoring Richard Reid before he tried to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner with explosives hidden in his shoes, urged a crowd of 200 outside his former Finsbury Park mosque to embrace death and the "culture of martyrdom."

Though British Home Secretary (interior minister) David Blunkett has sought to strip Hamza of his British citizenship and deport him, the legal battle has dragged on for years while Hamza keeps calling down the wrath of God.

Despite tougher anti-terrorism laws, the police, prosecutors and intelligence chiefs across Europe say they are struggling to contain the openly seditious speech of Islamic extremists, some of whom, they say, have been inciting young men to suicidal violence since the 1990s.

One chapter in Mohammad's lectures these days is "The Psyche of Muslims for Suicide Bombing."

The authorities say that laws to protect religious expression and civil liberties have the result of limiting what they can do to stop hateful speech. In the case of foreigners, they say they often are left to seek deportation, a lengthy and uncertain process and subject to legal appeals, during which the suspect can keep inciting attacks.

That leaves the authorities to resort to less effective means, such as mouse-trapping Islamic radicals with immigration violations in hopes of making a deportation case stick.

"In many countries, the laws are liberal and it's not easy," an official said.

While some clerics, like Abu Qatada -- said to be the spiritual counselor of Mohamed Atta, who led the Sept. 11 hijacking team -- remain in prison in Britain without charge, others like Mohammad, leader of a movement called Al Muhajiroun, carry on a robust ideological campaign.

Mainstream Muslims are outraged by the situation, saying the actions of a few are causing their communities to be singled out for surveillance and making the larger, non-Muslim population distrustful of them.

Muhammad Sulaiman, a stalwart of the mainstream Central Mosque here, was penniless when he arrived from the Kashmiri frontier of Pakistan in 1956. He raised money to build the Central Mosque and now leads a campaign to ban Al Muhajiroun radicals from the city's 10 mosques.

"This is show-off business," he says in accented English. "I don't want these kids in my mosque."

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