Nick Cohen retails another series of lies and distortions about Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi “ruled that the an [sic] Arab princeling should be stoned to death” (in fact he didn’t), Aljazeera magazine “hadn’t withdrawn the report” (in reality they had) etc etc. And Cohen concludes this demonstration of ignorant bigotry with the smug announcement that his mission as a journalist is to “tell Truth to readers”! What a plonker.
And what has made Cohen so cross? Well, it’s the fact that the Observer has acquired a leaked Foreign Office briefing which recommends that Dr al-Qaradawi should not be banned from entering the UK. The document is a well-informed piece of work, by Mockbul Ali, which entirely bears out the positive assessment of Qaradawi’s role made on this website and elsewhere. See (pdf) here.
The FCO’s line on Qaradawi, as summarised by Cohen, is to “try to detach him and the millions who listen to him from al-Qaeda”. This amounts to wilful distortion. The FCO document in fact argues for engagement with Qaradawi precisely because he is one of the most authoritative and influential opponents of al-Qaeda. He hardly requires any “detaching”. Cohen’s colleague Martin Bright (author of the Observer‘s witch-hunt against the MCB) also tries to imply a link between Qaradawi and al-Qaeda, reporting that “the memo contains the warning that refusing Qaradawi entry could lead to further terrorist attacks”. See here.
Cohen holds up the FCO briefing as evidence that “the mandarins have been preparing for an accommodation with radical Islam”, and Martin Bright agrees that the leaked document “will further fuel concerns of increasing ‘Islamist’ influence in the Foreign Office”.
It is notable that nowhere does the Observer deal with the arguments in favour of Dr al-Qaradawi that are presented in some detail in the FCO document, and unless you consulted the link in the online edition you’d be none the wiser. So much for “telling Truth to readers”. For that you have to go to Islam Online, 4 September 2005
It’s also worth noting that Cohen’s article is warmly welcomed by the Zionist right. See Israpundit, 4 September 2005