UK Supported Controversial Cleric to Attend Meeting in Turkey

July 11, 2006

Source: BBC News

On July 11, 2006 BBC News reported, "A prominent Muslim leader who has expressed support for suicide bombings in Israel attended a conference funded by the Foreign Office, it has emerged. Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi was among 180 people flown to Istanbul by the Foreign Office for the event 10 days ago. An official said it wanted to engage with people 'who don't necessarily share the same point of view'. It comes amid fresh criticism of the Foreign Office's alleged policy of engaging with radical Islam. Two years ago, Prime Minister Tony Blair, told MPs: 'Let me make it absolutely clear. We want nothing to do with people who support suicide bombers in Palestine, or elsewhere or support terrorism.' And last week, on the eve of the anniversary of the London tube bombings, he said: 'If we want to defeat extremism, we have to defeat its ideas.' But it has emerged Mr Blair's call to verbal arms came 24 hours after the Foreign Office had funded a conference on Muslims in Europe attended by Dr Qaradawi. The conference in Turkey brought together a wide range of influential Muslim thinkers, including a group from the UK, who argue that Islam is entirely compatible with European societies. The participants produced a declaration saying Islam forbids terrorism. 'We condemn and abhor the violent actions of a tiny minority of Muslims who have unleashed violence and terror - by distorting the teaching of Islam upon innocent neighbours and fellow citizens,' said the declaration."