Britain bans Saudi cleric Sheikh Mohammad al-Arifi

Al Arabiya News is reporting that Saudi preacher Mohammad al-Arifi has been banned from entering the United Kingdom.

“We can confirm Mohammad al-Arifi has been excluded from the United Kingdom,” a Home Office spokesperson said in a statement to Al Arabiya News.

“The UK Government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they represent a threat to our society. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who seek to subvert our shared values,” the spokesperson added.

This week, the cleric was accused by the British media of radicalizing three young British citizens allegedly now fighting in Syria. In the past Arifi has delivered many fiery sermons condemning Bashar al Assad and praising the fighters who oppose him.

Arifi, who is banned in Switzerland for his views, had been “preaching jihad” at the al-Manar Center in Cardiff in 2012, according to a report by the Daily Mail on Sunday.

Elders of the al-Manar Center, which claims on its website that in addition to serving Cardiff’s 11,000-strong Muslim community, “also plays a humble role in introducing the non-Muslim population of Britain to the religion of Islam,” are due to meet this week to discuss the issue, the Mail reported.

He is also reported to have tweeted: ”Some of the brothers have asked us about waging war inside Israel – we say to them, Jihad is not allowed in countries where there is peace – such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Qatar.”

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Last year, the cleric claimed in a television interview that the late al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was a victim of wide-level character assassination, although later backtracked on his remarks.

Sheikh Arifi has urged Muslim youth to travel for Jihad in Syria. In June 2013, he appeared in a video giving a jummah khutbah in Cairo, urging “heroic” Egyptians to “get up and help their brothers in Syria.”

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