Livingstone defends ‘progressive’ Qaradawi

Defying calls by pro-Israeli lobby in Britain to ban Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi from visiting the country, London Mayor Ken Livingstone has defended the prominent Muslim scholar as a “leading progressive Muslim” and blamed decades of western hegemony over the Arab world for recruiting “terrorists and extremists”.

Speaking at his first mayoral press conference Tuesday, July 19, since the terrorist July 7 attacks, Livingstone said he invited Qaradawi to a conference in Manchester next month on means of fighting extremism, the Financial Times reported.

“I believe it (is) important that Britain’s Islamic community hears, through every means possible, condemnation of this [London blasts] from leading Islamic figures and urge them to speak out with all the means they possess on this issue.”

“All information I have received is that [Qaradawi has] condemned the London bombings unequivocally as wholly incompatible with Islam,” he said.

Qaradawi, head of the Dublin-based International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS), was quick to condemn the grisly attacks on London, which were carried out by four bombers, including three British-born Muslims, and killed at least 56 people and injured up to 700.

“We were dumbfounded by the grave news of the London bombings which killed tens and wounded hundreds of innocent people who committed no crime,” Qaradawi had said.

His office told Tuesday, July 19, that the respected scholar was not expected to show up in the August conference because of his illness.

Islam Online, 20 July 2005