LONDON (JTA)—Suicide bombers will target Paul McCartney unless he cancels his concert in Tel Aviv, a Muslim cleric said.
Omar Bakri said the ex-Beatle’s decision to perform in Israel “is creating more enemies than friends,” London’s Sunday Express reported.
“If he values his life Mr. McCartney must not come to Israel. He will not be safe there,” Bakri said. “The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him.”
Bakri made the comments on his weekly Internet broadcast from his home-in-exile in Lebanon after being banned from returning to Britain, according to the Express.
McCartney is scheduled to perform for thousands of Israelis in Hayarkon Park on Sept. 25 as part of a world tour.
Several pro-Palestinian and political groups have asked McCartney to cancel his show, but he has refused.
SIR PAUL: TERROR TARGET
Sunday September 14,2008
SIR Paul McCartney has been threatened that he will be the target of suicide bombers unless he abandons plans to play his first concert in Israel.
Self-styled preacher of hate Omar Bakri claimed the former Beatle’s decision to take part in the Jewish state’s 60th anniversary celebrations had made him an enemy of all Muslims.
Sources said Sir Paul was shocked but refused to be intimidated.
In an interview with Israeli media yesterday he said: “I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here. I refused. I do what I think and I have many friends who support Israel.”
Sir Paul, 65, should have gone to Israel with the Beatles in 1965 but they were barred by the Jewish nation’s government over fears they would corrupt young people.
Yesterday a number of websites described him as an infidel and suggested he was going to Israel only because of the reported £2.3m fee for the one-off concert.
A message posted on one website said: “Shame on you Paul McCartney for day trippin’ to apartheid Israel” and vowed never to buy his music again.
Bakri, who made his weekly internet broadcast to fellow extremists from his home in Lebanon, where he has lived in exile since being banned from returning to Britain, said Sir Paul was “making more enemies than friends”.
Syrian-born Bakri, 48, went on: “I heard today that the pop star Paul McCartney is playing as a part of the celebrations.
“If you speak about the holocaust and its authenticity never being proved historically in the way the Jewish community portray it, people will arrest you. People will you say you should not speak like this. Yet they go and celebrate the anniversary of 60 years of what?
“Instead of supporting the people of Palestine in their suffering, McCartney is celebrating the atrocities of the occupiers. The one who is under occupation is supposed to be getting the help.
“And so I believe for Paul McCartney, what he is doing really is creating more enemies than friends.”
Explaining his comments, Bakri told the Sunday Express: “Our enemy’s friend is our enemy.
“Thus Paul McCartney is the enemy of every Muslim. We have what we call ‘sacrifice’ operatives who will not stand by while he joins in a celebration of their oppression.
“If he values his life Mr McCartney must not come to Israel. He will not be safe there. The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him.”
Lawyer Anjem Choudary, who last week chaired a meeting in London at which extremists claimed the next 9/11-style atrocity would be in Britain, said Sir Paul had allowed himself to become a propaganda tool for Israel.
He added: “Muslims have every right to be angry at Paul McCartney. How would the world react if he wanted to have a
concert in occupied Kashmir?
“They would not allow it to happen but because it is Israel he can play. A country which, as the celebration indicates did not exist 60 years ago, only exists thanks to stealing and occupying another country’s lands.” Yesterday the comments drew condemnation from Palestinian sources and outsiders.
Omar Barghouti, of The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, described the threat as “deplorable”.
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative MP for Newark and a former Shadow Security Minister, said: “One could dismiss Bakri as a ranting extremist but history has shown that he has an ability to twist minds, so his comments should not be underestimated.
“If Sir Paul McCartney wants to play at the 60th anniversary then it is the worst form of illiberalism for Omar Bakri to restrict the artist’s freedom in this way.”
A spokesman for Sir Paul declined to comment on the threat, saying: “Paul’s Friendship First concert is about his music. Paul’s is a message of peace.”
Tickets for the concert range from £70 to £230.
Last night Sir Paul performed his first concert in the Ukraine, playing to tens of thousands in the capital Kiev.