London conference featuring anti-gay Islamic preachers cancelled

Aaron Day October 6, 2013
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A north London conference featuring several anti-gay Islamic preachers, including one cleric who called for gay men to be “thrown off mountains,” has been cancelled.

The Beloved to Allah event, due to take place at the Edmonton Islamic Centre today, drew controversy earlier this week after the gay rights campaign group ‘Hope Not Hate’ revealed the anti-gay preacher Abu Usamah at-Thahabi would be speaking.

Thahabi’s extreme views have already been documented in a Channel 4 programme made in 2007, where he said that gay men should be “thrown off mountains” and “stabbed in the gums by Muslim dentists.”

Other guests to be at the event included Abdul Hakeem Quick, who also endorsed the death penalty for gay people, and Ustadh Murtazah Khan, who advocates anti-gay violence.

Following external pressure from several campaign groups including Hope Not Hate, however, the event has since been cancelled.

Nick Lownes, of the Hope Not Hate organisation, said: “I am pleased to announce that after a campaign by Hope Not Hate and other partners the Centre has cancelled the event. We understand that this may be the first time an event of this type has been cancelled.

“Hope Not Hate believe it is important to be consistent in our opposition to hate speech. Just as we would speak out against right-wing homophobes, so too must we voice our opposition to those in any community or faith who vocalise violence and even death against others.”

Interpal, a non-profit charity which helps Palestinians, was one of the organisers of the event.

In a statement issued to its Facebook page, Interpal said: “It is with great regret that we inform you that due to unforeseen circumstances and external pressure Management and trustee’s have discussed the critical air surrounding our event and have decided to cancel this Sundays Dhul Hajj event.

“We apologise for the short notice, this victimisation towards Islamic Speakers not only harms our work but disappoints the many people looking forward to gaining religious knowledge in this Holy period.

“Our Due Dilligence are always done to insure the suitability of our speakers however unfortunately sometimes outside pressure prevails.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.”

In February, Thahabi had his invitation to visit Reading University’s Muslim Society withdrawn over fears of violent protests. 

Along with Thahabi, Murtazah Khan has also advocated the idea of throwing gay people off mountains and stoning them to death.

Khan has previously claimed: “I’m not homophobic. I believe in a natural way of life. I’m repeating you what your Bible tells you.”

More: Abu Usamah at-Thahabi, Hope Not Hate, Islam, North London, preacher, Religion

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