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'Suicide bomb' protester arrested

Reports: London demonstrator on parole for drug dealing



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Great Britain

LONDON, England -- A man who dressed as a suicide bomber during London protests against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed has been arrested, police said.

Tuesday morning's arrest of Omar Khayam, 22, of Bedford, north of London, came it emerged he was on parole for drug dealing.

Khayam was sentenced to six years in prison in 2002 for possessing crack cocaine with intent to supply, according to British newspapers.

He was released on parole last year after serving half his sentence and could be returned to prison if it is determined he breached the conditions of his parole, the UK's Press Association reported.

A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said Khayam was arrested under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and was being taken to prison, PA reported.

Khayam's arrest was carried out at the instigation of the Home Office for breaching the terms of his parole license, PA said.

On Monday, Khayam met reporters outside his home and apologized "wholeheartedly" for his behavior in Friday's protests, saying it was "wrong, unjustified and insensitive" to dress as a suicide bomber.

Newspapers published pictures of him outside the Danish Embassy wearing a simulated suicide bombing outfit to denounce the cartoons first pictured in a Danish newspaper.

Earlier, he was quoted by the Daily Express newspaper as saying he wanted to highlight "double standards."

"I can't make any apologies for it. I didn't go there to cause anyone any harm. I went along just to attend a protest. Yet I have almost been branded a suicide bomber overnight," Khayam was quoted as saying.

"Did I say, 'Kill Jews'? No. Did I have racist signs on me? No. So why this reaction?

"I would do it again to make a point. I could have gone and held up banners or something, but this made the point better. If certain people have the right to do what they want and other people don't, then that is double standards."

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard said it has set up a special squad to investigate people who took part in the protest. Many protesters carried signs threatening death and terrorist attacks in retaliation for the cartoons.

Charles Clarke, Britain's home secretary (interior minister), told MPs that police and prosecuting authorities were carrying out "rigorous assessments" about the appropriate way to proceed in individual cases.

Senior detectives promised a "swift" inquiry, PA reported. Officers will decide quickly whether to send files on any of the demonstrators to prosecutors, and they could then face incitement charges.

London police are under pressure to arrest the protesters, with Scotland Yard receiving more than 100 complaints after Friday's demonstration, PA reported.

Conservative opposition spokesman David Davis said slogans such as "Massacre those who insult Islam" and "Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come" amounted to incitement to murder and that police should take a "no tolerance" approach to them.

On Monday British PM Tony Blair criticized the behavior of the demonstrators as "completely unacceptable." He also condemned attacks on European interests.

Blair said he spoke Monday morning with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark, where the cartoons were first published, to offer Britain's full support and say that they stand together in solidarity.

"The attacks on the citizens of Denmark and people of the European community were completely unacceptable, as is the behavior of some of the demonstrators in London over the past few days," Blair said in a statement read by his spokesman.

A range of British Muslim organizations condemned the London protest, including the moderate Muslim Council of Britain to the more radical Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which Blair wants to outlaw because of claims it supports terrorism.

"While strongly condemning the publication of these caricatures, we also unequivocally condemn those who are urging violent protests or inciting hatred against others," Hizb-ut-Tahrir spokesman Imran Waheed told PA.

Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said the Muslim community would welcome eventual arrests and prosecutions of those brandishing the placards.

"The placards that were on display were quite disgraceful and in our opinion seemed to constitute a clear incitement to violence, even murder," Bunglawala told Reuters.

CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam.

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