Jonathan Freedland spares a moment from attacking the Mayor of London over his relations with Hugo Chávez to take a swipe at Yusuf al-Qaradawi:
“It’s only on foreign policy that the Mayor gets the chance to strike some of the old, Leftist poses. I am sure that the folk at City Hall are sincere in their admiration for Chavez’s social reforms – but they also love that el presidente styles himself as George W Bush’s great Latin nemesis. Standing next to him gives the Livingstone circle a rush of ideological blood.
“The less forgivable example is the relationship with Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian cleric still hailed by Livingstone as the voice of moderate Islam – yet who recently added to his earlier positions condoning wife-beating and the stoning of homosexuals with a declaration that today’s Jews bear responsibility for the death of Jesus.
“The Mayor likes al-Qaradawi’s tough line on Israel – the sheikh supports suicide bombings against Israeli civilians – so he ends up hugging a man who bends Islamic theology to take on the vilest tropes of Christian anti-Semitism.”
Evening Standard, 14 September 2006
Except that Qaradawi supports neither wife-beating, nor the stoning of homosexuals nor suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. And the story about Jews bearing responsibility for the death of Jesus originates with the Middle East Media Research Institute – an organisation headed by a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence which has a long history of misrepresenting Qaradawi’s views by publishing carefully selected extracts from his speeches and interviews. By these means MEMRI has been able to “prove”, for example, that Qaradawi believed the victims of the tsunami deserved to die and that he argued it was a duty for Muslims to become suicide bombers in Iraq.
You can see why a right-wing rag like the Evening Standard hires a supposedly liberal journalist like Freedland to write for them. His standards of journalistic integrity fit right in with theirs.