‘Curry King’ recalls horror on anniversary of Mumbai hotel attack
Britain’s most prominent Muslim businessman, who was trapped inside a burning hotel in the Mumbai terror attacks, is calling on the government to toughen measures against extremist preachers.
Sir Gulam Noon, one of Labour’s most generous donors, says the door is being left open for foreign imams to radicalise thousands of young Muslims in mosques.
His demand comes in an exclusive interview on the anniversary of the attacks, which left 173 people dead after three days of mayhem. Noon was trapped on the third floor of the Taj hotel for nearly 10 hours while dozens of people were murdered in rooms around him.
Known as the Curry King for selling 1.5 million Indian ready-meals a week in Britain, he says the experience has left him less tolerant of foreign Islamist preachers, who he believes are indoctrinating young British Muslims.
“Having seen what I saw at close quarters, the indiscriminate violence and pain inflicted in the name of my religion, I am astounded that I hear from friends in the community that radical preachers are still coming to this country and praising attacks by al-Qaida and suicide missions. There is a limit to free speech. Extremists who preach their approval of suicide bombers should be sent back to their country of origin,” he said.
Noon, 73, who was born and raised in Mumbai, said his ordeal last year began as he stepped into the lift of the five-star hotel to go up to his third-floor suite to meet his brother and four colleagues for dinner. Behind him he heard a few sharp cracks, but thought nothing of it. “I heard what I believed were firecrackers from a wedding party. But a minute later a member of staff ran over and told me it was gunfire,” he said. Noon and his friends were told by staff to barricade themselves in. It was 9.30pm, and they would not emerge until 7am the next morning.
By the time the shooting was over, on 29 November, 173 people had been killed and 308 had been wounded.
Noon, who has given more than £300,000 to Labour, said he is proud of the way that India‘s Muslim community has responded to the attacks. “Indian Muslims have refused to bury the nine dead terrorists. They are still in the mortuary. It is a good symbolic message for the rest of secular India. Now Britain needs to get tough with the radical imams. We have the power to do something,” he said.
A spokesman for the UK Borders Agency said the government has introduced new laws to force imams to go through tougher English tests before being allowed into Britain.