Green MEP Caroline Lucas and the party’s home affairs spokesperson Hugo Charlton both took a stand against the anti-Qaradawi campaign.
Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South-East England:
“Sheikh al-Qaradawi has been the victim of an Islamophobic smear campaign in some sections of the media, and has been associated with a fundamentalist position on a number of topics, including the treatment of homosexuals and women.
“Most of the criticisms leveled at him have been ill-informed – indeed Dr al-Qaradawi has clearly stated that Muslims should obey the law of the land and has distanced himself from a fundamentalist position.
“I oppose discrimination wherever it rears its ugly head, and support the rights of homosexuals to live free from discrimination and persecution, of Muslim women to wear Hijab wherever and whenever they so choose, and of everyone to practice their religion in a climate of free expression. I do not believe these rights are incompatible.
“At a time when Muslims find themselves victims of vilification – both in the press and by government agencies – it is more important then ever that our commitment to human rights and equality is not expressed in a way that can fan the flames of populist Islamophobia.”
Hugo Charlton, Green Party Home Affairs Speaker:
“I regret the decision by some assembly members to attempt to deter the distinguished Muslim scholar Dr Al-Qaradawi from speaking at City Hall.
“Among those human rights issues which are championed there, freedom of speech does not seem to be one they are prepared to prioritise in this instance.
“Dr Al-Qaradawi is widely respected in the Muslim world and to decline him this venue can only send a negative message to both the domestic and international Islamic community. I strenuously support all attempts to build bridges and increase understanding – this is best done through dialogue, an essential component of which is allowing other people to speak.
“Whilst I understand and support the position of those who oppose homophobia and sexism when it is to be found in any religion (or anywhere else), I think that in this instance they have picked the wrong man, at the wrong time and in the wrong place.”