An Islamic preacher who called for gay people to be put to death has caused further outrage with his comments about the Holocaust.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 81, was at the centre of a row in 2004 when he came to London as a guest of Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was then heavily criticised by gay rights campaigners and Jewish organisations for inviting him.
He is head of the European Fatwa Council and spiritual leader of Islamicist organisation the Muslim Brotherhood.
al-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.
On his Al-Jazeera programme, where he gives religious advice to millions of Muslims across Europe and the Middle East, he recently stated:
“Throughout history, Allah has sent people to the Jews to punish the for their corruption. The last punishment was orchestrated by Adolf Hitler.
“Through all that he did against them, even if the Jews has exaggerated the issue, he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. By the will of Allah, the next time it will happen by the hands of the believers (ie: Muslims).”
In broadcasts in January he said he wished to go to Israel and shoot “the enemies of Allah, the Jews” before he dies and said Allah would take revenge for the bombardment of Palestine.
Ken Livingstone defended his decision to invite al-Qaradawi to London during his unsuccessful bid for re-election last year.
“We are clearly not going to see Dr Qaradawi on a gay rights march,” he said.
“But you wouldn’t see the Pope on a gay rights march and I would meet him.”
Campaigner Peter Tatchell withdrew his support for Mr Livingstone over the issue and along with an LGBT Muslim group, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Hindu and Sikh groups and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, wrote to the Mayor expressing their anger at the meeting.
However, many other gay rights advocates, among them Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill, the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism and activist Linda Bellos supported Mr Livingstone, citing his “proud record” on human rights and social justice for lesbians and gay men.
The arguments raged for nearly a year, with Mr Livingstone insisting that as the Mayor of the most diverse city in the world it was right for him to meet with members of faith groups even if he disagreed with their views.