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UK lawyer reports receiving death threats for defending Islamists – paper

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat website on 1 September

[Report by Muhammad al-Shafi'i in London: "Fundamentalists' Lawyer Replies to Extreme Right Wing's Accusations: I Am Not Talebani or 'Terrorists' Lover'. Mudassar Arani Faces Questioning Following Allegation of Bribing One of the Defendants in Failed London Bombings"]

Mudassar Arani, the fundamentalists' lawyer, has stated she is facing a fierce campaign by the British media because of her defence of Islamists. In a statement that "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" received yesterday, she described the provocation campaign to which she is subjected at present from the extreme right wing as well as the death threats, like those to the British lawyers who had defended the Irish Republican Army members in British courts. She appealed to the Muslim community to stand with her.

She touched on the campaign against her by the British tabloid press because she defended Abu-Hamzah al-Masri, the Egyptian fundamentalist who is serving a nine-year sentence in Belmarh priso! n on the charge of incitement, and said the tabloid press focused on her gains from her legal profession and claimed she earned 200,000 sterling pounds from "legal aid" for defending Abu-Hamzah in 2003, but not a single pence of this amount went to her pocket. She pointed out that the press took photos of her Mercedes car and her house in Brentford, which is worth 300,000 pounds, and said she was earning massive amounts of money from the legal aid costs to defendants, which the government pays.

Arani, who is facing the possibility of being questioned by the British police after being accused of bribing a defendant in the terrorism case of the failed London bombings, is the target of the campaign of hatred from the extremist right-wing "Fighting Group 18" on its website.

She said when "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" telephoned her that she received messages on the "answer machine" from extremist elements accusing her of being the "terrorists' lover", that death was on its wa! y to her because of her defence of fundamentalists, and that she is th e "Talebani face" in Britain.

Arani listed the 10 legal establishments in Britain which earned the highest revenues between 2005 and 2006 and they do not include a single Muslim one. She pointed out that a written enquiry in the House of Commons from a British deputy in September demanded the disclosure of the revenues of her company, which bears her name, from legal aid. She pointed out in her statement that she was the target of what she called an "Islamphobia" campaign from one of the Paddington Green station's police officers in August 2004 when one officer advised one of her clients to look for another lawyer, which prompted her to lodge a complaint with the judiciary. But Arani stressed that the claims and accusations against her are basically because she is a Muslim lawyer in Britain who insists on wearing the veil and defends the senior leaders of the fundamentalist movement, like Abu-Hamzah; Mokhtar Ibrahim, the leader of the failed London bombings; and Dhiren! Barot, convicted of planning to explode a dirty bomb and given a life sentence last November; and other Islamists. She asked: "We did not hear the media attacking a white lawyer but they are fishing for mistakes against me."

Arani's office is today considered an important centre for most Islamists for defending their cases after she undertook to defend dozens of fundamentalists. She said all the eyes are on the Muslim lawyers when they stand to defend the fundamentalists on the pretext that "they are sympathetic to terrorism." She added that other lawyers do not get these looks or suspicions and noted that there is a campaign of suspicion against her so as to withdraw her legal license. She then went on to say that she knows she is Muslim and a lawyer who wears the veil and the tabloid press and the extreme right wing do not forgive her for this. She called on the Muslim community to stand with her because she stood with and defended those without voice and she consi! dered herself one of the victims of the "war on terror."

She sai d she does not know when Scotland Yard police would question her and disclosed that her Islamist client Zayn al-Abidin, who died in jail following surgery in 2002, was the first to warn her of the expected campaign of hatred against her because of her defence of fundamentalists. Zayn al-Abidin, the official in charge of "Sakinah" security services establishment and an Islamic activist of Nigerian origin, was accused of providing training or instructions for making weapons, explosives, or nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and urging others to have military training abroad.

The statement she sent included a copy of the allegations by the Public Prosecution Office that she bribed Asiedu Ibrahim, one of the defendants in the failed London bombings, with 600 pounds in instalments to persuade the other defendants in the case to change their lawyers. Ibrahim said he wanted to thank Arani for sending money to him and thought of writing to her but he did not know why sh! e sent him the money. She pointed out that she also sent him in jail two cards on the occasion of Al-Adha and Al-Fitr feasts with the word "May God make the difficult easy, make the difficult times easy, and grant you success in the upcoming trial. With much love." He was surprised by the expression "with much love" from a Muslim woman, according to the statement received by "Al-Sharq al-Awsat."

Lawyer Arani was born in the Ugandan capital Kampala and came to Britain in the early 1970's during the rule of its former ruler Idi Amin. She lived in the Brentford area and became a lawyer. She opened her office which bears her name in 1997 in Southall. She said she is defending dozens of fundamentalists and maybe this is another reason for the British media's attack on her. The cases of Abu-Hamzah, Salman Zayn al-Abidin, a Moroccan detainee in Guantanamo, and a large number of Islamists in Londonstan are some of the most prominent cases she had defended.


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