Muslim leader flies in

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 December, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 December, 1995, 12:00am

WHEN the chief priest of Muslims touched down in Hong Kong last night on his journey from Mecca, the trip was not as comfortable as it could have been.

The King of Saudi Arabia's jet carrying the Imam of the Holy Mosque had to be left behind in Bangkok because of congestion at Kai Tak airport, said a community leader.

No parking spots were available for the three-day stopover and the Imam instead had to catch a China Airlines flight, said chairman of the Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund Khurshid Hanafi. The Imam, Sheik Mohammad Abdullah Subayal, who is in his early 70s, seldom leaves his country.

He was greeted by more than 100 Muslims who waited to shake his hand at the VIP terminal before he left in a Mercedes-Benz.

'You can compare him to the Pope,' said Abuzar Abbasi, executive secretary of the Islamic Union.

'He is one of the most learned men.' The Imam of Kaaba, the holiest shrine of Islam, leads prayers at the holy site in Mecca.