And the Labour MP is none other than Jack Straw! The Liberal Democrats are apparently the source of an attempt, taken up by the Sunday Times, to make an issue of Straw’s role in gaining a donation from the Emir of Qatar towards the construction of a mosque in his Blackburn constituency.
Haras Rafiq of the Sufi Muslim Council steps forward to claim that “Some of the biggest mosques and institutions in the UK have been funded by foreign money and have been proven to be portraying extremist viewpoints”. And Anthony Glees and Patrick Mercer also weigh in with warnings about the threat from foreign donations.
The Sunday Times concedes that the Emir of Qatar has a reputation of being “a pro-western reformist and moderniser”, which does rather undermine this scaremongering campaign. But that doesn’t prevent the paper trying to make a case that the emir is some sort of extremist.
After all, he helped to establish Al-Jazeera in Qatar, and one of the TV station’s regular presenters is Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who “has praised suicide bombings in Iraq”. Whereas of course Qaradawi has in reality opposed suicide bombings in Iraq.
See also “Jack Straw ‘too close’ to pro-Hamas faction”, Sunday Times, 4 October 2009
And Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, “Times exposes Jack Straw links with Blackburn radicals”, ‘Focus on Islamism’ Standpoint blog, 4 October 2009