Ken Livingstone invited this man to speak in London, as a 'reformer.'
A new poll has shown that Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson are now neck-and-neck in the run-up to the London mayoral election. The Labour candidate is now thought to be more 'in tune' with popular concerns, including but not limited to budget cuts, the Olympics, and rail fares. The Guardian has jumped on the bangwagon, publishing a piece by Rabina Khan - cabinet member for housing on Tower Hamlets council - attacking those who claim that he associates with Islamic extremists. She puts these claims down down to the 'rightwing press' appealing to the lowest common denominator and the 'politics of fear.' But the truth is rather more nuanced than that.
One of Mr. Livingstone's long-standing allies is the 79-year-old Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi, styled by the BBC as an 'Islamic scholar:' It was Livingstone who invited him to London, and welcomed him to City Hall, calling him a 'reformer.' Let's take a look at these 'reforms:'
Not intermingling with men in such way that their bodies come in contact or that men touch women
Flirting and seductive behaviour are characteristics of wrong-minded women
If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas
Try as he might to make this sound remotely civilised, it still amounts to 'obey me or I'll hit you' - an attitude the UK grew out of in the 1800s. Now, on the subject of homosexuals:
This perverted act is a reversal of the natural order, a corruption of man's sexuality, and a crime against the rights of females
And racial integration...
tthose who practice it slaves to their lusts, depriving them of decent taste, decent morals, and a decent manner of living
If the number of Muslims in a country is small—for example, if they are immigrants residing in a non-Muslim country—their men ought to be prohibited from marrying non-Muslim women because, since Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men, their marriage to non-Muslim women means that many Muslim girls will remain unmarriedAll this comes from an article, entitled 'In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam,' available online and penned by the Sheikh himself. Feel free to take a good, long read: even the most hardened Guardian contributor might, after a hundred and fifty pages, come to realise why having a Mayor of London who once counted this man as an ally is such a bad idea. He is homophobic. He condones spousal beating. He supports FGM (provided it does not 'physically harm' the female). He endorsed the fatwa calling for Salman Rushdie's execution. He is considerably more racist than even the most hardened 'far-right' activist:
Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people...this Jewish, Zionist band of people...do not spare a single one of them
If opposing a man who says something like that makes me 'right-wing,' then so be it.
Why is the Guardian, supposedly a 'liberal' paper, allowing space to people who try to defend Ken Livingstone's association with a man who is in every respect the antithesis of liberalism? Why did a right-on 'progressive' such as Ken Livingstone make a point of inviting him to London in the first place? And why is not wanting a future Mayor of London to have such close links with him considered 'bigoted?' It strikes me as profoundly sensible. To my mind, sharing a platform with a man who thinks that women can be beaten and says that about the Jews should render one unelectable for life: it probably would, had said mayoral candidate been a Tory, or a member of any smaller party.
And it cannot be excused as a simple error of judgement. Qaradawi is not the only radical Islamist that Ken Livingstone or his administration forged close links with. The Islamic Forum of Europe, a multinational group whose leader was quoted espousing shari'ah by an episode of Dispatches, is based in the East London Mosque, which received hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money during Ken Livingstone's time in office. An IFE-linked lobby group, Muslims 4 Ken, unsuccessfully campaigned for Livingstone's re-election in 2008. The connections between Ken Livingstone and radical Islamist preachers run deep. Re-read those quotes of Qaradawi the reformer, and read the transcript of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme on the IFE, then ask yourself: is this man, who sponsored and supported these people, really who we want as our mayor?
That is the antithesis of the harmonious, tolerant, and open-minded city that London is, and that most Londoners want it to be. Surely we do not want a mayor who associates with them?