Outrage has produced a comprehensive, and well worth reading, refutation of Livingstone’s taxpayer funded and misleading attempt to vindicate his feting of a vicious reactionary cleric.
It goes without saying that Outrage’s considered response highlights the nature of Ken Livingstone’s somewhat desperate attempt to smear Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner with a long and honourable record of opposing racism and totalitarianism.
Livingstone exposed over Qaradawi
Mayor’s Dossier on al-Qaradawi Distorts the Truth
This 10-point summary refutes key claims by the Mayor of London in
defence of his invitation to the Muslim cleric Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi
last July to City Hall.
All quotations are taken directly from Dr al-Qaradawi as published on
the website that he supervises, http://www.islamonline.net. There can
be no question about their authenticity or accuracy.
This dossier was compiled by the gay and lesbian human rights group
OutRage!. For more information, call Brett Lock on 0770 843 5917
The Mayor claims Dr al-Qaradawi is one of the Muslim scholars who have
done the most to combat socially regressive interpretations of Islam
on issues such as women’s rights.
Dr al-Qaradawi supports the killing of people who have turned away
from Islam (“apostates”).
In a fatwa issued in June 2003 concerning organ donation, Dr
al-Qaradawi stated: “it is not permissible to donate it to an apostate
as he is no more than a traitor to his religion and his people and
thus deserves killing.”
al-Qaradawi supports female genital mutilation (female
He says that, while it is not obligatory, “whoever finds it serving
the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support
this under the current circumstances in the modern world.”
al-Qaradawi insists that a husband must compel his wife to wear the
“It is unanimously agreed upon among Muslim scholars that it is not
lawful for a Muslim woman to uncover any part of her body other than
the face and hands (and the feet according to some schools of
jurisprudence). Hence, it is unlawful for a woman to reveal her hair,
or arms, or chest or legs before non-mahram men. Wearing clothes that
reveal such parts of a woman’s body is completely forbidden. A Muslim
husband is to order his wife to wear hijab.”
al-Qaradawi sanctions domestic violence in certain circumstances.
“If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and
rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his
best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and
reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from
her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity
may be restored and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If
this approach fails, it is permissible for him to admonish her lightly
with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas.”
The Mayor claims al-Qaradawi is described as a supporter of terrorism,
when, in reality, he has been one of the most forthright Islamic
scholars condemning terrorism.
Al-Qaradawi supports targeting Israeli civilians.
Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi, sheikh of Cairo’s al-Azhar University,
said Monday that Islamic Shari’ah law, “rejects all attempts on human
life, and in the name of Shari’ah we condemn all attacks on civilians,
whatever the community or state responsible for such an attack … We
disapprove of all those who justify attacks against children by
reasoning that the children will join the army when they grow up.”
Qaradawi, however, angrily disagreed. He argued:
“Has fighting colonizers become a criminal and terrorist act for some
sheikhs?” He added that Israeli society “was completely military in
its make-up and did not include any civilians. In Israel, men and
women are soldiers,” added al-Qaradawi. “They are all occupying
Qaradawi supports suicide bombing (including by women).
“Thus, women’s participation in the martyr operations carried out in
Palestine – given the status of the land as an occupied territory, in
addition to a lot of sacrilegious acts perpetrated by the Jews against
the sanctuaries – is one of the most praised acts of worship.”
The Mayor claims Dr al-Qaradawi opposes “the repression of
In his book, The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, republished recently
on IslamOnline, al-Qaradawi says on the subject of homosexuality:
“Muslim jurists hold different opinions concerning the punishment for
this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for
fornication, or should both the active and passive participants be put
He then defends that view by adding:
“While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to
maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of
He does not condemn the view – he excuses it! The death penalty only
seems cruel, he argues, until we understand that it is actually
necessary “to keep [Islamic society] clean of perverted elements”.
rhetoric used in the rest of al-Qaradawi’s article hardly supports the
Mayor’s view that al-Qaradawi “opposes the repression of
Mayor Livingstone then points to the fact that Leviticus 20:13 also
calls for the death penalty for homosexuality, asking provocatively
whether that meant that the Chief Rabbi should also be excluded from
City Hall. But the Chief Rabbi did not write Leviticus, nor any papers
endorsing its modern-day application. In contrast, al-Qaradawi’s
condemnation of homosexuality comes from his own pen!
Additionally, al-Qaradawi and his colleagues recently launched a
blistering attack on the Gay Muslim group Al-Fatiha and tried to block
gay organisations from participating in a United Nations meeting on
The Mayor claims no Muslim group was associated with the document.
The Gay Muslim group Imaan were party to the discussions all along.
They dropped out only right at the end due to internal politics and
after the Mayor had offered them a separate meeting to discuss their
Livingstone also favourably quotes a condemnation of the London
community coalition’s criticisms of Dr al-Qaradawi from a discussion
board on Imaan’s website. He claims it was typical of Imaan’s views
and fails to acknowledge that the passage he quotes is from one person
taking one position. He does not mention that it was this one person,
Bilal Patel, who posted 9 of the 22 posts in the discussion.
Nevertheless, one of the other members challenged Mr Patel, saying:
“If your objective is a dialogue leading with, leading to acceptance
by, the Ummah on behalf of Gay Muslims, then sooner or later you are
going to have to take on and defeat the views preached by Imams such
as Qaradawi …”
To which Mr Patel answered: “Agreed about taking on Qaradawi’s
Thus, Imaan’s last-minute withdrawal from the London community
coalition seems to have been an issue of strategy – not, as the Mayor
attempts to persuade us, because they disagreed that Dr al-Qaradawi
was antigay or that he should not be challenged.
Furthermore, Ken Livingstone fails to mention that he had previously
been in correspondence with Imaan over the al-Qaradawi issue and that
they had criticised his decision to invite Dr al-Qaradawi. His reply
to them is archived on their website here:
The Mayor also chose to ignore former Muslims and liberal Muslim
involved in the coalition, many of whom are political dissidents from
Islamic countries and have suffered death threats, beatings,
imprisonment and torture at the hands of fundamentalists.
The Mayor claims that al-Qaradawi stresses that female genital
mutilation (FGM) is not required by Islam.
This is true, but the issue was never whether al-Qaradawi thought FGM
was compulsory. The issue is that he personally recommends it, which
“whoever finds it [FGM] serving the interest of his daughters should
do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances
in the modern world.”
The Mayor says the coalition’s briefing contains Islamophobic
statements that are evidence of a “conspiracy theory of Islam”.
The London community coalition’s briefing does not condemn anyone
because of their race or faith. Indeed, many of the coalition members
are people of faith. Some are Muslims.
The Mayor’s dossier does not attribute quotations and allows the
reader to believe they were made by the compilers of the coalition’s
Livingstone quotes two statements from the coalition’s briefing as
evidence of an anti-Muslim conspiracy: “The issue of the hijab was
being presented as a first step on a long path of religious duties
culminating in ‘Jihad’ …” and “This fake Islamic Hijab is nothing but
a political prop …”
What the Mayor doesn’t say is that these quotations are from, Abd
Al-Mun’im Sa’id, director of the Al Ahram Centre for Political and
Islamic Studies, and the Iranian author Amir Taheri respectively. But
the Mayor’s dossier insinuates that these quotations are from
Far from being Islamophobic, the London community coalition has right
from the outset made clear its objection to anti-Muslim prejudice; and
that its criticisms apply only to Dr al-Qaradawi (and not to Muslims
The coalition’s al-Qaradawi briefing states:
“We condemn all forms of prejudice or discrimination against Muslim
people, utterly and without qualification.”
Additionally, the London community coalition cited a petition
delivered to the United Nations on 30 October 2004, signed by over
2,500 of the world’s leading Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries.
The petition names al-Qaradawi as one of ‘the theologians of terror’,
accusing him of ‘providing a religious cover for terrorism’. These
Muslim critics cannot be dismissed as Islamophobes.
Many refugees from Islamist repression in the Arab world condemn
al-Qaradawi as an apologist for “Islamo-fascism”. They accuse him of
opposing democracy, socialism and human rights. The apparently liberal
opinions al-Qaradawi espouses when he visits western capitals are just
a front, they say, designed to fool and seduce politicians like the
Mayor of London. His true beliefs are the hard-line fundamentalism he
preaches in Arabic to Middle Eastern audiences when no western
journalists or politicians are present.
Arab News points out that al-Qaradawi’s gentle words in London “don’t
match” the extremism he preaches in the Middle East. Undeterred,
Livingstone denies the evidence and continues to side with al-Qaradawi
against liberal and left-wing Muslims.
The Mayor has denounced Peter Tatchell as having “a long history of
Islamophobia.” On the contrary, Tatchell has condemned the racism that
consigns Muslim people to some of the poorest housing and jobs in
Britain. He has also been a long-time supporter of the Palestinian
struggle, a fierce critic of the western invasion of Iraq, and he has
backed the campaign against the detention of Muslim suspects without
trial in Belmarsh Prison.
The Mayor claims that Sikh groups distanced themselves from the
dossier because “no evidence was produced by the authors to back up
their claims that Qaradawi backs forced conversion to Islam”.
The section making that claim was inserted by the Sikh groups
themselves. It is their own claim, no one else’s. If they do not have
evidence to back it up, that is their own failing. Livingstone makes
it seem as if those claims were made on behalf of Sikh groups but
rejected by them, when the truth is that the Sikh groups made those
claims themselves and submitted them for inclusion in the dossier,
which was collaboratively compiled by the various community groups
The Mayor claims Peter Tatchell cites Islam as “uniquely reactionary”
on lesbian and gay issues.
Peter Tatchell is far better known (some might say notorious) for his
confrontations with the Church of England, the Catholic Church and
Christianity in general. He has been quoted as saying (more than
“The Church of England is an oppressive, homophobic institution. I
think that any lesbian or gay person who is a part of that Church,
unless they are overtly, actively campaigning to change things, are
part of the problem. They are helping to sustain that historic
oppression of lesbian and gay people.”
“The Bible is to lesbian and gay people what Mein Kampf is to Jews.”
Such robust criticisms of Christianity hardly support the Mayor’s
claim that Tatchell believes Islam is “uniquely reactionary”.
Nevertheless, it is certainly a fact that today the worst abuses of
lesbian and gay human rights occur in Muslim countries under Sharia
The Mayor claims the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association is
sympathetic to Pim Fortuyn and is opposed to laws against incitement
to racial hatred.
First, Livingstone quoted selectively from an article in Gay & Lesbian
Humanist magazine on Pim Fortuyn. The article does indeed acknowledge
that humanists share Fortuyn’s worry that concessions to the Islamic
religious lobby will erode liberal values – that, after all is a
concern of all liberal secular humanisms. Dishonestly, the Mayor fails
to include the sentiments of GALHA’s Terry Sanderson – quoted in the
same article from Gay & Lesbian Humanist magazine:
“While we in no way support Pim Fortuyn’s ideas on immigration, or see
any connection between immigrants and social decay …”
GALHA may agree with Karl Marx that “religion is the opiate of the
people”, but that hardly makes GALHA a communist organisation.
Similarly, just because an article in the magazine acknowledges that
gay humanists share Fortuyn’s concerns about antigay attitudes in
Islam, it is thoroughly dishonest to imply that GALHA support the late
Fortuyn’s political agenda – especially since it is explicitly stated
in the article that GALHA does not.
Second, Livingstone claims that GALHA opposes “the new law against
incitement to racial hatred” (our emphasis). But this is a lie. There
is no new law against racial hatred. The new legislation is against
inciting religious hatred. In other words, it is not about protecting
people from hatred, but giving religious ideologies a privileged
GALHA, like many liberal commentators, including the comedian Rowan
Atkinson, opposes the new law of “incitement to religious hatred”. It
fears, quite reasonably, that the law will stifle legitimate debate
and free speech about religion or criticism of religious views.
Indeed, many religious groups also oppose the legislation, including
the Barnabas Fund, the Christian Institute and the Evangelical
The Mayor claims the London community coalition opposed his dialogue
with “a leader of one of the world’s great religions”, and even that
the coalition opposed dialogue with the Muslim community.
No such call was ever made by the coalition. The criticism of Ken
Livingstone was over his red-carpet treatment of Dr al-Qaradawi and
his seeming endorsement of the cleric. The London community coalition
positively encourages the Mayor to maintain a dialogue with all
people, faiths and communities – including Muslims. But the coalition
also expects him to challenge those who hold anti-humanitarian views
and to not embrace those, like Dr al-Qaradawi, who explicitly endorse
human rights abuses.