Be Merciful to Qaradawi
Hypocritical cleric wants medical treatment that he would deny to others.
The government's decision to ban Muslim extremist cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi from entering Britain is illiberal, unwarranted and unmerciful.
Don't get me wrong. There no shred of doubt in my mind that Qaradawi is anti-Semitic, homophobic and sexist, and that he justifies terrorist attacks on innocent civilians.
He is the spiritual head of the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood, and his politics are well to the right of the odious British National Party (BNP).
But Qaradawi is coming to Britain to receive medical treatment, not to promote his prejudiced preaching. In these circumstances, banning him is unjustified and heartless.
We should show Qaradawi the mercy that he seeks to deny to fellow Muslims who transgress his dogmatic, illiberal interpretation of Islam.
The government is wrong to stoop to Qaradawi's level of inhumanity. We should let him come to Britain for medical treatment, and thereby show him and the world that our (albeit imperfect) liberal, humanitarian values are better than his bigotry and his glorification of religious-inspired violence.
Qaradawi is, of course, a complete hypocrite. He wants medical treatment in a country whose liberal values he despises. He doesn't believe in universal human rights. He thinks our laws on the rights of women and gay people are an abomination. Despite this, he is quite happy to use the medical services of non-believers to save his own life. Two-faced or what?
Let's hope his surgeon is a gay Israeli Jew - and that he performs a successful operation, so that Qaradawi is forced to acknowledge that he owes his life to a Jewish sodomite.
Qaradawi is also a hypocrite because he is seeking medical treatment, when there are certain circumstances in which he would apparently deny treatment to people who do not share his hardline Islamism. He believes that such people should be allowed to die. Qaradawi is on record as saying that Muslims should not donate organs to people who adopt other faiths or become atheists. An apostate should not be given an organ donation because he has transgressed Islam and "deserves killing," Qaradawi wrote in a fatwa issued on the website, Islamonline, of which he is the chief scholar, on 24 June 2002.
Such extreme, inhuman views are not untypical of Qaradawi. He also advocates:
Killing Muslims who have turned away from Islam (apostates)
The execution of gay people in Islamic societies
Suicide bombing of innocent Israeli civilians
Female genital mutilation (female "circumcision")
Compelling women to wear the hijab, even if they don't want to
Violence against disobedient wives in certain circumstances
Blaming rape victims who dress immodestly
Flogging women who have sex outside of marriage
References to his expression of these far right views can be found in a dossier compiled by the multi-ethnic, multi-faith London Community Coalition.
Further evidence is contained in this dossier produced by OutRage! and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association.
Both these documents refute the apologia and distortions of the truth by those who defend and support Qaradawi.
This evidence of Qaradawi's authoritarian political and religious views comes from his own books, like The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam, and from quotes in his name on the website that he heads, Islamonline. All are in English, in his own words, so there can be no dispute about their accuracy.
Despite his fundamentalist, anti-humanitarian views, Qaradawi is defended by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, the Socialist Workers Party, Respect, the Muslim Association of Britain and, of course, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB).
Because I have criticised Qaradawi, some of these people denounce me: "Tatchell is a racist ... Tatchell is an Islamophobe," they say. These insults are, of course, without any factual basis. I never condemned Qaradawi because of his race and I have never condemned Islam or Muslims in general - only extremists like Qaradawi.
These apologists are talking nonsense when they claim that Qaradawi is a moderate. Sure, compared to the Taliban and al-Qaida he is less extreme, but compared to most Muslims in Britain he is a fundamentalist and a preacher of intolerance.
It is an insult to British Muslims to suggest that Qaradawi represents their views. Such drivel from sections of the far left and their Islamist allies plays straight into the hands of the BNP. It gives Nick Griffin the ammo he needs to fuel his scare-mongering and anti-Muslim diatribes. It gives him an excuse to tar all Muslims with the extremist tag.
Inayat Bunglawala, the MCB's Assistant Secretary-General, has fallen into a similar trap. His reaction to Qaradawi's exclusion from the country, as expressed
on The Guardian's Comment is Free website, has conveniently ignored Qaradawi's anti-humanitarian agenda. Such spin only serves to bring the MCB into disrepute.
If you doubt me when I say that Qaradawi is a right-wing extremist, remember this. In October 2004, a petition signed by 2,500 of the world's leading Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries was delivered to the United Nations. It condemned Islamic theologians who promote fundamentalism, intolerance and violence, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Listing him as one of the "sheikh's of death," the petition signatories accused him of "providing a religious cover for terrorism."
I never supported Qaradawi being banned from coming to Britain when Ken Livingstone hosted him at City Hall in 2004. But I did object to him being feted and given a platform in the name of the people of London.
The only circumstances where it is legitimate to exclude people from the country is where they explicitly incite violence. Qaradawi comes close to doing this but not quite. The best way to respond to his reactionary, oppressive views is by protesting against them and by exposing and challenging them in rational debate.
Briefings on Qaradawi's anti-humanitarian agenda:
Qaradawi filmed by the BBC justifying suicide bombings that kill innocent civilians
A refutation of the apologia and distortions of the truth by those who defend and support Qaradawi
The detailed dossier of the multi-ethnic, multi-faith London Community Coalition on Qaradawi's right-wing, fundamentalist, anti-humanitarian politics
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