From Gaydar Radio:
Earlier in the interview Livingstone was asked if he regrets inviting the controversial Muslim preacher Yusuf al-Qawadi to City Hall in 2004 during his time as London mayor.
The cleric is banned from entering the United States and has previously argued that gay people should be executed and has also supported female genital mutilation.
Livingstone remains unapologetic over the decision and says Qawardi has been the victim of “demonization” by the western press. Livingstone claims he raised the issue with Rebekah Brooks during her time as editor of The Sun newspaper: “The Sun was the first paper to run this stuff. I said [to Rebekah Brooks] where do you get this stuff about Qaradawi? And she said, ‘Oh it came from American sources’.”
Livingstone added: “When Qaradawi came to London, I stood there and I heard him say, ‘It’s wrong to attack homosexuals, it’s wrong to beat your wife’. He actually said ‘It’s wrong to scrounge on benefits you could get out and get a job’, so I would have thought [David] Cameron would be quite happy to hear that.
When asked if he had used the opportunity to change Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality Livingstone replied: “No. I made no effort to change it, this is what he said, and if I’m asked to judge a person on what I hear them say, or what I read about them in The Sun, sorry but I’m going to believe what I hear.”
Livingstone also claims that violently homophobic rhetoric reportedly made by Qawardi on his personal website could have come from a “Zionist organisation” called Memory, which is “run by a former Mossad agent that demonizes all Muslims.”
He also believes another website is in existence which is posing as Qaradawi and has “Saudi funding to demonize him.”
When Livingstone was questioned on how his support for Qawardi had previously strained his friendship with the veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, he responded, “Yeah, but I met him and Peter didn’t, I had a conversation with the man.”