London's gay Muslim activist slams Mayor�s embrace of anti-gay cleric

November 17, 2004

London Assembly Member Darren Johnson and gay and humanist activists protest against homophobic cleric Dr al-Qaradawi
LONDON — A gay Muslim campaigner is supporting calls for the London Assembly to set up an inquiry into Mayor Ken Livongstone's red carpet treatment of the Muslim cleric Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

�I fled to Britain to escape murder by Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria,� said gay Muslim and OutRage! activist, Ramzi Isalam.

�Now I find the Mayor of my adopted city embracing a cleric who endorses the execution of gay people in Islamic states and who provides a theological justification for the people who wanted to kill me.�

�Why is the Mayor prepared to have a dialogue with Islamic fundamentalists like Dr Qaradawi and the Muslim Association of Britain, but not with liberal and progressive Muslims? Why does he ignore the pleas of the victims of Islamist repression and dictatorship?

�Those of us who have suffered at the hands of the fundamentalists do not want our persecutors following us to London and being given the red carpet treatment by the Mayor of London,� added Isalam.

Ken Livingstone has refused to meet a coalition of liberal, progressive and religious community groups to discuss their concerns about his hosting of Dr Qaradawi at City Hall last July.

Now the coalition has written to members of the London Assembly, calling for an inquiry into the Mayor�s hosting of Dr Qaradawi and his refusal to meet them or to engage in any consultation with community groups concerned by the Mayor�s embrace of the fundamentalist cleric.

The unprecedented coalition of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, gays, feminists, students, humanists and refugees from Islamist repression includes gay rights group OutRage!. Its Muslim spokesperson, Ramzi Isalam said:

�Dr Qaradawi has condoned anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia, including female genital mutilation, domestic violence, suicide bombing, the execution of homosexuals by Islamic states, and the destruction of the Jews.�

The coalition signatories include Peter Tatchell and Brett Lock of OutRage!, Nadia Mahmood of the Middle Eastern Centre for Women�s Studies, Amrik Singh Chair of the Sikh Federation UK, Maryam Namazie of the Iranian Organisation for Women�s Liberation, Luciana Berger and Alan Clarke of the NEC of the NUS, Ramesh Kallidai Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain, Rev Richard Kirker General Secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Mike Whine of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and refugees who have suffered persecution at the hands of Islamic fundamentalist regimes. – Issued by OutRage!

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