Controversial cleric denies visit

A controversial Muslim cleric who was invited to speak at a conference in Britain is not coming, according to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone.

Egyptian-born scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 79, who has praised suicide bombings by Palestinians, was expected to speak at the Muslim Unity Convention in Manchester next month. But Mr Livingstone, who has welcomed al-Qaradawi on previous trips to London, said that the cleric was not even aware he had been invited.

The mayor’s office telephoned al-Qaradawi’s office with an Arabic speaker and were told that he is not coming to Britain. Mr Livingstone said: “Not only is he not coming (to Britain), he was not aware that he was invited.”

Press Association report, 19 July 2005