Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fury Grows over Race Hate Cleric Who Can't Be Deported

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fury Grows over Race Hate Cleric Who Can't Be Deported

Article excerpt


THE controversy over the visit to London of a militant Muslim cleric deepened today as it emerged that the authorities are powerless to stop him.

Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi provoked fresh anger over his weeklong stay in Britain when he reiterated his backing for suicide bombers in both Israel and Iraq.

Ken Livingstone triggered renewed criticism from Labour MPs and Jewish groups after he welcomed the cleric to an event at City Hall as "an honoured guest".

As calls grew for Dr al-Qaradawi, 78, to be deported it emerged that police had advised that they believed he posed no threat to public safety - the only basis he can be refused entry to the country.

Kensington and Chelsea council will allow him to attend a Muslim Association of Britain conference at its town hall on Saturday following advice from special branch officers, the Evening Standard has learned.

Dr al-Qaradawi has been banned from the US and his home country Egypt because of his links to hardline group the Muslim Brotherhood which is suspected of supporting terrorism.

Labour MPs and gay rights groups criticised Mr Livingstone for giving such strong support to him. Opening a conference yesterday, the Mayor said: "I welcome you as an honoured guest". Mr Livingstone attacked "Islamaphobia in the tabloid press" for stirring up the row over the cleric's visit.

MP Louise Ellman said the sheikh was believed to be a major shareholder in a bank alleged to be part of al Qaeda's fundraising network.

She added: "I do think it's very sad that Ken Livingstone gave such a warm welcome to someone who's promoting mass murder through suicide bombings."

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell also criticised the Mayor because the cleric has advocated the execution of homosexuals in the past.

Sharing a London stage with Mr Livingstone yesterday, Dr al-Qaradawi said: "I was told that my visit has caused a row and I do not understand why.

"It is not the first time I have visited London, it is not the 10th time or the 100th time. …

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