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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
Controversial cleric let into UK
Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
The cleric's supporters regard him as a moderating voice
A controversial Muslim cleric who is banned from entering the US has been given permission to visit Britain.

Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks and supporting suicide bombers.

BBC religious affairs correspondent Martha Doyle said although respected in the Arab world, his visit has angered leaders of Jewish community groups.

Labour MP Louise Ellman said it would be "an outrage" to let him visit, and create "enormous security problems".

The Liverpool MP accused Dr Al-Qaradawi of encouraging women and children to be suicide bombers and seeking the destruction of Israel.

Mrs Ellman is calling for his speeches to be monitored.

'Threat'

Home Secretary David Blunkett said banning Dr Al-Qaradawi was not currently justified.

"We will certainly monitor what he has got to say and what he has got to do," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"But the idea that preaching at a mosque that has completely reformed itself makes him a threat - it does not."

Mr Blunkett said if the cleric was shown to be dangerous, he would attempt to ban him.

He added: "Whenever I do this, by the way, I usually get the liberati getting on my back for being against people being able to express themselves."

Muslim, Jewish, black and Asian groups need to sit down with the government and the Commission for Racial Equality and thrash this out
Dr Edie Friedman
Jewish Council for Racial Equality
Dr Edie Friedman, director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, told BBC News Online consistency was needed in who was allowed into the UK.

She said: "We need to go back to the drawing board and make sure we understand the criteria of why some people are allowed in and why some are not.

"Muslim, Jewish, black and Asian groups need to sit down with the government and the Commission for Racial Equality and thrash this out so when it happens again people know why the decision has been made."

But the Muslim Association of Britain, which is hosting Dr Al-Qaradawi, regards him as a moderating voice.

The organisation claims that his views on suicide bombers are irrelevant.

On its website, it said Dr Al-Qaradawi arrived in London on Monday for a week-long visit during which he would take part in a number of functions.

That included chairing the European Council of Fatwa and Research, which will open under the auspices of Mayor Ken Livingston at the Greater London Assembly in London on Wednesday, it said.

The cleric is expected to preach at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, where imprisoned Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri was imam, she said.

Dr Al-Qaradawi, who is based in Doha in Qatar, has been banned from the US since 1999.




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