Europe’s largest support group for Muslim LGBT people has expressed concern that the decision to bar a controversial Islamic scholar from the UK could contribute to Islamophobia.

Imaan has released a statement joining mainstream Muslim groups concerned at the Home Office decision to ban Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.

The spiritual leader of Islamicist organisation the Muslim Brotherhood, Dr Qaradawi is known to have supported suicide bombings in Israel, the oppression of women’s rights and has argued in the past that homosexuals should be put to death.

The Home Office today announced he would be refused entry over concerns his presence “could foster inter-community violence.”

“The UK will not tolerate the presence of those who seek to justify any act of terrorist violence,” a spokesman said.

Ubaid-ur Reham, Secretary of Imaan said:

“Banning Dr Qaradawi will do nothing to further good relations between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, in fact it will only harm relations, as many Muslims will see this ban as double standards.

“We disagree with his views on homosexuality, but believe it is necessary to engage with those who have different opinions in order to effect change.

“We also believe the ban is counter-productive and politically motivated, as it runs contrary to advice given by the FCO.

“Members of Imaan already face Islamophobia within the LGBT community and beyond as a result of increased stigmatisation of Muslims in the press and by some politicians.

“Following the 11 September and 7 July attacks we have seen increased stigmatisation of our members.

“Banning a high profile, widely-regarded cleric like Dr Qaradawi can only contribute to the idea that Muslims are synonymous with extremism.”

The group said that all faiths are “regressive” in their attitude to gay people and they disagree with Dr Qaradawi’s views.

“We believe that all relgious leaders should be treated equally and just as we would not support a ban on the Pope, so we are concerned that by banning Dr Qaradawi, the Home Office is contributing to a climate of Islamophobia, which impacts on all Muslims, including our LGBT members.”

They added that the government’s decision: “flies in the face of advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which states that acting ‘against Dr Qaradawi would alienate significant and influential members of the global Muslim community (and) give grist to Al-Qaeda propaganda of a western vendetta against Muslims.’

“This advice, given in 2005 by its Islamic Affairs Advisor, clearly outlines that Dr Qaradawi has made authoritative statements condeming the London bombings, the 9/11 attacks and other acts of terrorism, which he has stated are against the beliefs of Islam.”