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UK radical Muslim leader fined for cartoon demo

Written by: Staff

LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) A radical British Muslim leader who organised protests against Danish political cartoons was fined today for staging a demonstration without the proper permission.

Three other men have been charged with soliciting murder and a fourth with trying to stir up racial hatred at the February demonstration outside London's Danish embassy, which followed the publication of cartoons viewed as offensive by many Muslims.

Police said march organiser Anjem Choudary had failed to give the required six days' written notice.

''Mr Choudary must be sufficiently aware that he can't push the police into a position where they are forced to make emergency arrangements,'' judge Nicholas Evans said at London's Bow Street Magistrates court.

He fined Choudary 500 pounds and ordered him to pay 300 pounds in court costs.

Choudary said the charges against him were political.

''There is a lot of media pressure and political pressure put on people to bring a prosecution,'' he told the court.

More than 50 people died in protests across Asia, Africa and the Middle East in response to the publication of the cartoons, deemed blasphemous by many Muslims. One cartoon showed the prophet Mohammed with his head scarf fashioned like a bomb.

No one was hurt at the demonstration in London, but some demonstrators posed as suicide bombers and others carried placards and chanted slogans calling for punishment for those who insult Islam.

Choudary was convicted of similar offences for organising illegal demonstrations in 2003.

He was the deputy leader of the Al-Muhajiroun organisation, a group that has praised the Sept. 11 hijackers who struck the United States. The group says it has disbanded in Britain, and its leader Omar Bakri has left the country.

Reuters DH VP0055

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