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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
No visit to UK for Muslim cleric
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is banned from entering the US
A Muslim cleric whose proposed visit sparked controversy, will not be coming to the UK, London's mayor has said.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, 79, who has praised suicide bombings by Palestinians, was invited to address the Muslim Unity Convention in Manchester next month.

But Ken Livingstone, who has welcomed him on trips to London, said the cleric had been unaware of the UK invitation.

However, the Ramadhan Foundation said the sheikh was invited in January to the event, but so far had not accepted.

An official spokesman for the group said: "The invitation is still there and is still open for him."

However, Mr Livingstone said an Arabic speaker he had asked to call the sheikh's office was told he had received no invitation.

"Not only is he not coming, he was not aware that he was invited," he said.

The cleric has distanced himself from suicide attacks in the West but he has consistently defended Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis.

Through his (Allah) infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do
Sheikh Al-Qaradaw

He told al-Jazeera television that he was not alone in believing that suicide bombings in Palestinian territories were a legitimate form of self defence for people who had no aircraft or tanks.

He said hundreds of other Islamic scholars were of the same opinion.

The Ramadhan Foundation spokesman said the Manchester conference "was the first of its kind in Europe".

He said its aim was to achieve unity among different groups of UK Muslims and to promote peace.

"There are going to be more than 16 other speakers, all moderate Muslims who have condemned the attacks and want to work towards rebuilding confidence in our community," he said.

Mr Livingstone invited Sheikh al-Qaradawi to London last year.

Addressing more than 250 European Muslim delegates, the mayor said his guest was a well-respected moderate "who preaches moderation and tolerance to all faiths throughout the world".

Arab journalist attacks radical Islam
07 Sep 04 |  Middle East
Livingstone invites cleric back
12 Jul 04 |  UK Politics
Al-Qaradawi full transcript
08 Jul 04 |  Newsnight

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