UK Politics

Qaradawi’s London PR Agency

As regular readers will know, earlier this year, the Mayor of London took on the role as public relations officer to Sheikh Qaradawi: a theocratic bigot who developed the theological basis for the murder by suicide bombing of civilians in Israel. At great expense to the tax payer, Ken Livingstone commissioned a “dossier” which sought to refute what was obviously the case: that Qaradawi is a racist homophobe who no democrat should touch with a barge pole, let alone embrace and defend.


I had thought that Ken Livingstone’s service to Qaradawi was a “one off”. But, apparently, the Mayor’s Press Office is providing an ongoing PR service to the cleric.

I am not sure why public resources are being used to defend Qaradawi.

Perhaps the answer is that Ken Livingstone is worried about being associated with the sort of person who advocates the execution of gay men. Given that Qaradawi is on record as supporting the punishment of homosexuality by stoning, being thrown from a high building, being whipped 100 times or imprisonment until death, I would have thought the question of whether he had made up his mind between these various punishments, in the particular case in point, was a trivial one.

But given that this issue obviously matters to the Mayor of London, why doesn’t his Press Officer simply email Qaradawi and ask him whether he now rules out the death penalty for homosexual acts when carried out by Muslim states in accordance with Shariah law? Surely that would be easier than bothering gay rights groups about it?

In any case, if anybody knows, or can find out, why the resources of the Mayor’s Office are being devoted to providing this service to an overseas cleric, please let me know.

You can read the email from the Mayor’s Press Officer, and the reply from OutRage! and the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association below.


From the Mayor’s Press Office

Hi Brett,

Your website includes a press release featuring incorrect information –
http://www.outrage.org.uk/pressrelease.asp?ID=304

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said: ‘With reference to the recent
press release from Outrage (‘Qaradawi endorses execution of Qatar
prince, says Aljazeera. Qatari royal heir outed by Aljazeera’ – 5
August) quoting Dr al-Qaradawi in support of the execution of gay men,
my officers have investigated this quote and it was wrongly attributed
to Dr al-Qaradawi. It was actually made by the Saudi Wahhabist, Muhammad
Saleh Al-Munajjid.’

Please update your website and include a correction.

Thank you.

Emma
Emma Lewis
Press Officer – Community & Culture
Mayor’s Press Office
Greater London Authority
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA
Direct line: 020 7983 4068
www.london.gov.uk

OutRage! and the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association

Dear Emma

With reference to your request received yesterday, 18 August, to add a
correction concerning a quote attributed to Dr Qaradawi by the
Qatar-based publication Aljazeera:

OutRage! and the Gay & Lesbian Humanist Association have received
similar requests, and we are therefore replying jointly.

We note the following:

(1) We do not attribute the quote to Dr Qaradawi, Aljazeera does. Our
news report clearly states that he was quoted by this magazine as having
made the comment reported. It is quite possible that Aljazeera contacted
Dr Qaradawi and got the quotes it attributed to him.

(2) There has been no denial of this quote published on IslamOnline.net,
the website Dr Qaradawi supervises as chief scholar, and which is cited
as the source of the story.

(3) There has been no retraction published by Aljazeera, nor any letter
to the editor by IslamOnline.net, nor by Dr Qaradawi, nor by Dr
Munajjid. If such a letter exists, please let us know.

(4) Dr Munajjid may very well be a “Saudi Wahhabist”, but he is on the
panel of muftis’s headed by Dr Qaradawi who issue fatwas on behalf of
IslamOnline.net.

(5) In a fatwa on homosexuality issued a year ago to which both Dr
Qaradawi and Dr Munajjid contributed, Dr Qaradawi seems to be in
complete agreement with Dr Munajjid, saying that the death sentences
meted out to homosexuals only “seem” cruel, but are suggested “to
maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of
perverted elements” (ie. homosexuals).

The words Aljazeera attributed to Dr Qaradawi are similar to those
attributed to Dr Manajjid in this year-old fatwa, but there may be
perfectly reasonable explanations for this. Since Dr Qaradawi heads up
the fatwa panel, it seems quite likely that when asked for comment on
the issue of the crown prince, he simply quoted from this pre-existing
fatwa. As we noted, neither on IslamOnline.net, nor on Aljazeera, is
there any disavowal of these sentiments. If Dr Qaradawi had felt
maligned by these words or these views being attributed to him, surely
he would have said so?

We will be happy to make a note on our websites when we are satisfied
that Dr Qaradawi has complained to Aljazeera (the source of the story),
and that he publicly repudiates the sentiments attributed to him.

It would also be useful to end disagreement and/or speculation about Dr
Qaradawi’s views on the state-executions (or corporal punishment or
imprisonment) of homosexuals if he would make an unequivocal public
statement against States engaging in such punishments. Does he, for
example, echo the call by Prof Tariq Ramadan for a moratorium on capital
and corporal punishments?

Your office has the resources and the lines of communication to secure
such a statement. We request you seek such a statement from Dr Qaradawi
and ask him to post it on IslamOnline.net. That would set the record
straight and end any misunderstanding or misinterpretation.

We would be delighted to keep open correspondence on this issue, and
make amendments in the light of a clear condemnation by Dr Qaradawi of
the execution of lesbians and gay men in Muslim states.

We would be delighted to keep open correspondence on this issue, and
make amendments in the light of a clear condemnation by Dr Qaradawi of
the execution of lesbians and gay men in Muslim states.

We are as anxious to get to the bottom of this as you are.

Your help with regard to this would be much appreciated.

Best wishes

Brett Lock
On behalf of OutRage! and Galha

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