Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has said that the British government’s decision to ban Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi from entering Britain to receive medical treatment is “illiberal, unwarranted and unmerciful.”

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.

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

“Qaradawi is anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist and an advocate of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians,” said Mr Tatchell.

“But he is coming to Britain to receive medical treatment, not to resume his hate preaching. In these circumstances a ban is unjustified.

“We should show Qaradawi the mercy that he seeks to deny to fellow Muslims who transgress his dogmatic, illiberal interpretation of Islam.

“It is wrong for the government to stoop to Qaradawi’s level of inhumanity.

“We should let him come to Britain for medical treatment, to show that our liberal, humanitarian values are better than his

bigotry and his glorification of religious violence.”

A range of Muslim groups in the UK criticised the ban, among them Imaan, Europe’s largest support group for Muslim LGBT people.

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.”

Mr Tatchell commented:

“The Muslim Council of Britain is talking nonsense when it claims that Qaradawi is a moderate.

“Compared to al-Qaida he is less extreme, but compared to most Muslims in Britain he is a fundamentalist and a preacher of intolerance.

“Qaradawi is a hypocrite. He wants medical treatment in a country whose liberal values he despises.

“He is also a hypocrite because he is seeking medical treatment that he would refuse to people who do not share his hardline interpretation of Islam.

“He believes medical treatment should be denied to Muslims and non-Muslims that he disagrees with. He believes that such people should be allowed to die.

“Qaradawi is on record as advocating the denial of medical treatment to Muslims who do not share his particular brand of Islam. He says that Muslims should not donate organs to Muslims who adopt other faiths or become atheists. An apostate should not be given an organ donation because he has transgressed Islam and ‘deserves killing,’”

Dr Qawardi has been banned from entering the United States since 1999.