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Banned Islamist warns France against Muslim veil ban

An Islamist preacher barred from Britain for his radical views warned France on Wednesday against passing a Muslim veil ban, or risk increasing support for Al-Qaeda.

“Look what happened in Belgium and in France,” Omar Bakri said, referring to Belgium’s ban on the burqa, or full Islamic veil, and the start of debates by the French parliament on a similar law that is all but certain to be adopted.

“They believe that prohibiting Muslim women to use the burqa is going to make them safer. But they are wrong. This is going to make Muslims living in France give more support to Al-Qaeda”, Bakri told Spain’s Cadena Ser radio.

The Syrian-born preacher, who settled in Britain in 1985, was banned from re-entering the country in 2005 and moved to Lebanon, when then home secretary Charles Clarke ruled that his presence was “not conducive to the public good”.

He caused controversy after claiming to have predicted that terrorists would strike on the British mainland several months before the July 7 London bombings in 2005.

Until 2004 Bakri had headed the radical al-Muhajiroun group, and praised the hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States as the “magnificent 19”.