Skip to comments.Radical cleric invited back to UK
Posted on 07/12/2004 12:02:57 PM PDT by knighthawk
Ken Livingstone has invited controversial Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi back to Britain for another speaking tour.
Ignoring the growing outrage over Dr al-Qaradawi's presence, Labour's London Mayor offered him a personal invitation to return for a three-day conference in October, saying it would be an "honour".
And in angry defiance he rounded on opposition leader Michael Howard and the press claiming they have helped stoke up the alarm over the cleric's London talks with Britain's Muslim community.
Ignorance and political point-scoring have fuelled the damning "hysteria", Mr Livingstone insisted.
Dr al-Qaradawi has been heavily criticised after describing suicide bombers as "martyrs" and for his views on homosexuals and women.
The pair were sharing a platform at a City Hall conference on an Islamic woman's right to wear the hijab head-dress. More than 250 European Muslim delegates broke into applause at the invitation and its provisional acceptance.
Dr al-Qaradawi said he "welcomed" the invitation to attend the European Social Forum, a collection of thousands of voluntary and faith groups from across Europe, at Alexander Palace.
Speaking through an interpreter he said: "I would like this invitation. I would hope to meet him (Mr Livingstone) again."
Mr Livingstone said: "On behalf of the people of London, I would like to apologise to the Sheikh for the outburst of xenophobia in sections of the media.
"It is not the first time it has happened. Many of us have been victims of this in the past when the press write speeches that were not made from a meeting you never attended."
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