Jewish community leaders have welcomed the banning of a radical Islamist group which has glorified suicide bombers and preached antisemitism.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson proscribed Islam4UK under anti-terror legislation and extended the banning order to the group’s use of other names, including Al-Muhajiroun.
The extremist group, led by Anjem Choudary, had last week announced and then retracted plans to march through Wootton Bassett, the Wiltshire town where crowds gather to honour British soldiers killed in Afghanistan as their coffins are repatriated.
Mr Johnson said: “Proscription is a tough but necessary power to tackle terrorism and is not a course we take lightly. We are clear that an organisation should not be able to circumvent proscription by simply changing its name.”
The group has also been banned under its alternate titles, Call to Submission, Islamic Path and London School of Sharia. Two splinter organisations — Al-Ghurabaa and the Saved Sect — were proscribed in 2006 under the Terrorism Act.
Being a member of any of the groups or attending their meetings is now punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Mark Gardner, Community Security Trust director of communications, said: “We welcome the banning of Islam4UK as a necessary statement of intent by the government. However, the problem will keep returning until its leading organisers and their ideology are fully tackled.”
A Board of Deputies statement said: “This is an encouraging move in the fight against extremism. It sends a strong signal to those who wish to undermine British values… and will be welcomed by the Jewish community.”
The Board said the government must “remain vigilant” to prevent the “inevitable formation of duplicate organisations” if extremists attempt to circumvent the ban.
Al-Muhajiroun was formed in 1996 by radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed. He was banned from Britain in 2005 for his extremist preaching.
In 2002, Al-Muhajiroun member Iftikhar Ali was convicted of incitement to racial hatred for distributing leaflets saying “the final hour will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them”. The following year, on the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the group held an event glorifying “the magnificent 19” who hijacked the planes that hit the Twin Towers.
In a statement, Islam4UK said: “The announcement by the Brown regime to proscribe Al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK is a victory for Islam and Muslims. It is a clear case of the oppressor and tyrant blaming the oppressed. Britain has today become an apartheid state, where Muslims are treated as second-class citizens.”