One of Britain's most senior Muslim leaders has revealed that he was denied entry to the United States without explanation.
Dr Zaki Badawi, head of the Muslim College, told The Associated Press he was denied entry when he arrived in New York yesterday. He was detained for about six hours. No explanation was given, he said.
On Sunday, Dr Badawi joined other British religious leaders in condemning the London bombings. He appeared with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, Free Churches Moderator David Coffey and Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.
He was given an honorary knighthood and in 2003 he was among the guests of Queen Elizabeth II at a state banquet for President Bush.
He had been travelling to New York after an invitation to speak at the Chautauqua Institution, where he planned to give a talk under the title "The Law and Religion in Society."
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Washington and New York City did not immediately return calls seeking comment. Nr did the US Embassy in London.
No explanation was given for his exclusion, Dr Badawi said in a telephone interview. "The people I was speaking to were very junior people, and they are just executing things they were told," he said. "They were very very embarrassed, and I felt sorry for them."
Dr Badawi said he had visited the United States many times before, the last time in 2003.
"America is a lovely country. There is no reason why it should behave like that," he said.
In September, Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was ejected from the United States without explanation. Mr Islam's flight from London was forced to make an emergency landing in Maine when US authorities discovered he was aboard