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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 22:23 GMT 23:23 UK
Cleric preaches love and bombings
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi preached in London
Controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has insisted he stands for love, tolerance and peace in a TV interview.

Rejecting criticism of his views, he said Muslims should not "declare war" on homosexuality and ideally men should not beat their wives.

But he again defended suicide bombing by Palestinians against Israelis.

The Sheikh's visit to Britain has sparked demonstrations and protests, but support from London's Mayor.

On Monday Ken Livingstone invited him to return to the UK in October saying his message was one of tolerance and moderation.

We call for love not hate, for tolerance not fanaticism, for peace not war
Yusuf al-Qaradawi
This welcome has angered human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who condemned the cleric's views on women and gays.

Mr Tatchell told BBC's Newsnight: "I'm shocked that sections of the Left and the Mayor of London have treated him as a guest of honour, given what he's been saying."

Conservative leader Michael Howard has called for him to be thrown out of the country and a Home Office minister withdrew from a conference at which he was due to appear.

In a Channel 4 news interview on Tuesday the cleric described homosexuality as an "unnatural and evil practice" and said the Koran permitted wife-beating as "a possibility" in certain circumstances.

'Love not hate'

But he denounced extremist Islamist preachers such as Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada and insisted he represented the "middle way" in Muslim teaching.

"There are among Muslims some fringe groups who represent the strength of violence and extremism, such as Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, but these have no scholarly, practical or community weight," he said.

"The great majority of Muslims in Britain are co-operative and constructive. We call for love not hate, for tolerance not fanaticism, for peace not war."

But challenged on his views on suicide-bomb attacks by Palestinians in Israel, he said: "When we say that such operations are permissible, it is because they are the only means.

"They are necessary because, simply, the Palestinians do not have any other means of confronting their enemies."

Livingstone invites cleric back
12 Jul 04  |  Politics

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