Sources from the Egyptian community in Britain have claimed that Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the former mufti of Egypt, cancelled a visit to London for fear of being prosecuted for his support for the recent military coup and the subsequent crackdown in Egypt.
In an exclusive interview with Arabi 21, the sources explained that Sheikh Gomaa had received an invitation to attend and speak at a global religious conference organised by the British Council in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which took place almost two weeks ago.
However, Sheikh Gomaa cancelled his visit after legal bodies in Egypt advised him that there was a possibility that he could be arrested as soon as he arrived in London.
The Freedom and Justice Party had commissioned an international legal team to prosecute Egyptians in the British courts who are accused of committing crimes against demonstrators opposed to the coup, or on charges of incitement to commit these crimes.
The legal team had held a press conference a few weeks ago which confirmed that the prosecution would include all those responsible for the crimes, whether they are politicians, religious figures, military personnel or civilians, and both if they had participated directly in the crimes or incited them.
It is important to note that Sheikh Gomaa appeared in a leaked video where he incited the leaders of the army to kill protesters who opposed the coup, describing them as “outsiders” who deserve to be killed, and who are not worthy of Egyptian identity.
However, Sheikh Gomaa later denied that demonstrators from the Muslim Brotherhood were the intended targets of his speech.
British law allows the prosecution of any international official if it is proven that he or she committed war crimes anywhere in the world under “international criminal jurisdiction” in the penal code, an article that has previously benefited lawyers supporting the Palestinian cause and the effort to prosecute a number of Israeli leaders on charges of committing war crimes.
They were even able to prevent former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, along with a former military commander, from entering Britain a few years ago, for fear of arrest.