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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 13:57 GMT 14:57 UK
Imam accused of 'gay death' slur
Muslim praying
The comments were made in a private meeting
A gay rights campaigner has accused an Imam of saying the execution of gay Muslims to stop the spread of disease is "for the common good of man".

Dr John Casson visited Arshad Misbahi, the Imam at Manchester Central Mosque, to discuss concerns over the execution of homosexual Muslims in Iran.

Dr Casson said the comments were made in a private meeting but he wrote them down afterwards.

The Imam did not deny the comments but said he had been misinterpreted.

Mr Misbahi said he was only talking about the Islamic perspective on homosexuality and stressed he would make a statement later on Thursday.

I would apologise if I had misunderstood what he said
Dr John Casson

Dr Casson, a psychotherapist, said he was shocked at what had been said.

He said he set up the meeting to open dialogue with the Muslim community after reading about two gay teenagers, Mahmood Asghari and Ilyas Mahoni, who were hanged in Iran.

He decided to contact Muslim leaders to show he felt this was unacceptable.

"I would very much welcome the Imam's clarification of him telling me and the public exactly what the views of Islam are," he said.

"I would apologise if I had misunderstood what he said to me.

"I wrote down what he said to me straight after the interview."

'Demonising Muslims'

Massoud Shadjareh, from the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said this was not an issue for Muslims.

He said homosexuality was "not compatible" with Islam, just as it was not compatible with other orthodox religions, such as Catholicism.

He added: "Just one man talking to another becomes an issue, Muslims are being put under a magnifying glass.

"I think that this is part of demonising Muslims," he said.

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