Anti Fascism

Livingstone defends Qaradawi – again

Harry’s Place guest poster, Peter Tatchell is dismissed by Ken Livingstone’s own dodgy dossier as an exponent of conspiracy theories about Islam. The Dossier goes on to characterise the description of militant islamism in the report “Mayor Livingstone and Sheikh Qaradawi” as “reminiscent of the various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories”.

This is the first part of Peter Tatchell’s response to Ken Livingstone’s ironically titled dossier, Why the Mayor of London will maintain dialogues with all of London’s faiths and communities

Ken Livingstone has defended Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the day it was revealed the Muslim cleric said the Asian earthquake victims deserved punishment from Allah because their countries are, in his view, centres of immorality, decadence and perversion.

On the very morning Qaradawi’s disgraceful views were reported in The Times (11 January), Mayor Livingstone called a press conference at City Hall to defend the fundamentalist cleric.

OutRage! is appalled the Mayor is defending a reactionary fundamentalist who says 150,000 people deserved to die because some of them were supposedly immoral and failed to observe his hardline interpretation of Islam

Why is a left-wing Mayor associating with a right-wing Islamist?

According to reports in The Times and on BBC TV News on 11 January 2005, Qaradawi said in a sermon broadcast on Qatar TV:

“People must ask themselves why this earthquake occurred in this area and not others…Whoever examines these areas discovers that they are tourism areas….where the forbidden acts are widespread, as well as alcohol consumption, drug use and acts of abomination…Don’t they deserve punishment from Allah?”

Ken has justified his hosting of Qaradawi at City Hall last July, while attacking a London community coalition of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Christians, gays, humanists, women, students and refugees from Islamist repression. Our community coalition is critical of Dr Qaradawi’s sexist, homophobic and anti-Semitic opinions. We do not believe he is a fit and proper person to be hosted by the Mayor of our great city.

Ken’s suggestion that criticisms of Qaradawi are part of a Mossad or Jewish conspiracy are laughable and insulting. The cleric’s bigoted opinions are openly expressed in his books and speeches.

Qaradawi supports female genital mutilation, wife-beating, the execution of homosexuals, destruction of the Jewish people, suicide bombing of innocent civilians, and the punishment of rape victims who do not dress with sufficient modesty.

These attitudes are clerical fascism. No Mayor of London should be hosting a religious leader with such anti-democratic opinions.

The Mayor praises Qaradawi as a moderate Muslim leader. But he has used selective, partial and misleading quotes to portray Qaradawi in a moderate light.

For example, while Livingstone boasts that Qaradawi says female genital mutilation is not obligatory, he omits the fact that the Muslim cleric says he personally recommends it. This is typical of the Mayor’s distortions.

Apparently afraid of criticism from the lesbian and gay community, the Mayor’s advisors cancelled the Greater London Authority Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Forum, which was to have been held on Tuesday 11 January.

This is the second month in a row that the Forum has been cancelled by the Mayor and his officials.

On both occasions, the Forum was due to have discussed motions critical of Ken’s hosting of Dr Qaradawi at City Hall last July.

The Mayor appears to be fearful of open debate. He is now using bureaucratic maneuvers to stifle legitimate criticisms of his handling of the Qaradawi affair. This suggests political weakness, not strength.

Ken’s handling of this issue is alienating the lesbian and gay community, which used to be among his staunchest supporters. Does he care? It seems not.

Further information: www.outrage.org.uk and www.petertatchell.net

Peter Tatchell

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