This is a cross-post from Peter Tatchell
The Quakers are today (4 April) hosting at their Friends House HQ in London a conference that includes far right Islamist extremists, some of whom support the execution of LGBT people, unchaste women, blasphemers & Muslim dissidents:
The Quakers are hosting this meeting in the name of free speech. I support free speech, even for Islamists that I disagree with – EXCEPT if they support the killing other human beings.
Juliet Prager, Deputy Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, advised:
“The Quakers let meeting space in Friends House to a wide range of organisations. All our customers are required to agree to our terms and conditions which say that the aims and policies of the hirer may not be in serious conflict with Quaker beliefs. Quaker faith holds that each person is of equal value and must be respected.”
Since some of today’s speakers hold extremist views that are in “serious” conflict with Quaker values, I am surprised that the Quakers have agreed to host the event.
I have huge admiration and immense respect for the Quakers but on this occasion I think they are mistaken. Tolerance of intolerance is collusion with intolerance.
Below is my correspondence with Paul Parker, Recording Clerk (head) of the UK Quakers, and a briefing on one of the main speakers at today’s conference – Islam in Britain – organised by the Islamist group MEND.
Re the MEND meeting this Saturday at Friends House, Islam in Britain:
I am sure the Quakers inadvertently accepted the MEND booking, without knowing the hate-mongering and execution-preaching of its speakers.
The values promoted by MEND and some of its Saturday speakers are in direct contradiction to Quaker values, which I understand is normally grounds for Friends House declining a booking.
MEND and some of its Saturday speakers support Sharia law, which includes the execution of apostates, blasphemers, LGBT people and women who have sex outside of marriage. They also preach intolerance of people of other faiths, including fellow Muslims (especially Shia).
See a briefing below.
These are surely grounds for rescinding the booking? I would respectfully appeal to you to do so.
Best wishes, Peter Tatchell
Thank you for drawing to our attention your concerns about the letting in Friends House on Saturday. I have now had a chance to speak to colleagues about this.
I’m sure you’re aware that the freedom to gather is an important principle for Quakers and we do let Friends House to a wide range of organisations. Quakers in Britain are not the host organisation for this event.
In confirming the letting we bore in mind the stated aim of the conference to engage Muslims ahead of the General Election and we received assurances from the organisers that speakers would abide by our Quaker principle that discrimination is not acceptable. We have also taken police advice.
Thanks again for getting in touch.
Quakers in Britain
LONDON NW1 2BJ
I hear your response and reasoning.
However, isn’t this a bit like saying you’d allow the BNP to meet at Friends House, providing they don’t express racist views at the event?
The values promoted by MEND and some of its Saturday speakers are in direct and gross contradiction to humanitarian, progressive and Quaker values.
I, too, support freedom of speech and the right of Muslims to hold and express their point of view. But this does not mean that Friends House is obliged to host an organisation and speakers that seek to deny human rights to other people and support the execution of those who do not conform to their hardline Islamist agenda.
MEND and its speakers support Sharia law, which includes the execution of apostates, blasphemers, LGBT people and women who have sex outside of marriage. They also preach intolerance towards people of other faiths, including fellow Muslims (especially Shia Muslims).
MEND sound fine on paper and this conference seems admirable. But this is the new strategy of far right Islamists, to disguise their true extremist agenda. They’ve rebranded themselves just like Hizb ut Tahrir did some years ago – but their clerical, anti-human rights agenda remains the same. They just keep it more hidden and private these days.
I’d respectfully ask you to reconsider and to ask Friends House management to withdraw the hosting of MEND on the aforementioned grounds.
It is unwise for Quakers to give a platform and credibility (however unintentional) to those who would kill us (and many others) if they got power.
Thanks very much, Peter Tatchell
BRIEFING TO QUAKERS
The Quakers are hosting a MEND (used to be called iEngage) conference entitled ISLAM IN BRITAIN which include some very extreme figures which stand accused of homophobia, anti-Shia, anti-semitism and misogyny.
Speakers include Yasir Qadhi and Abu Eesa Niamatullah – extreme Salafi/Wahhabi preachers who have variously spoken very disparagingly against gays, women, Shia Muslims and Jews.
Qadhi’s views on LGBTs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcZOYOendS0
Qadhi’s views on women: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j__C0zqeAw
Mehdi Hasan wrote about Qadhi’s anti-Shia views in the Guardian:
Qadhi on LGBTs:
“In our own generation, for those who are slightly older, maybe in the high 20s early 30s, maybe not that old … for those who have been around for a little bit older than those who are 18, 19, look at how this own society and culture has evolved in the way it looks at homosexuals.
In our own time – I remember as a kid in the 80s, which gives you an idea of how old I was – growing up in the 80s … I remember how homosexuals were looked down upon, and the names that were give to these people, and how disgusted the average masses were with that segment of society.
Now look! Now look at how we have regressed – not progressed. Where it is impossible, forget a Muslim, even a Christian or a Jew, can not stand up in public in front of a non-Muslim audience, and speak against homosexuality. He is a homophobe! He is an evil person! How dare he preaches hatred against this group of people!
A group of people who were punished, by the way, the likes of which no other nation has been punished! From the time of Adam to the Day of Judgement, no community, no group of people had been punished like the People of Lut had been punished. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala [May he be glorified and exalted] picked up their city. He picked it up by the angel Jibreel alaihis salaam [On him be peace]. And he let it sworn [sic] up into the air and he turned it upside down and he smashed it on itself.
And to this day, to this day, the most uninhabitable place and the most evil water on the face of the earth is the Dead Sea. Which is the place of Sodom and Gomorrah. To this day! Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not punish any nation like He punished them.
What are we going to do when we’re facing a nation which keeps on changing its values? One day something is good – tomorrow it’s not good. How are you going to defend – how are you going to say hijab is good or bad when they themselves don’t have a steady command of what is good and bad, when good and evil evolves within society and culture?
You can’t. You simply cannot play the rule according to their games [sic]. You cannot do it.”
Qadhi on Shi’a Muslims:
He spoke out against Shi’a in 2008 at a previous conference:
“With regard to the Shiites, really they are the most lying sect of Islam. In other words, it is a part of their religion… that they are allowed to lie…. They have an ascription to one of their Imams – “Lying is nine tenths of this religion”. Now by the way I’m speaking of their religion that is based on certain knowledge. I have their main book…I have looked over it, I have read their chapters. I’m not taking this from what the Shiites say. The Shiites are allowed to lie. It is their religion to lie. Ok. Any person who knows the Shiites knows this. 90% of their own religion, by their own statement, is lies. They are allowed to lie… so don’t go and ask Shiites what they believe – go straight to their source books. Well, actually right now, you shouldn’t be reading their books…”
Mehdi Hasan wrote about Qadhi’s anti-Shi’a views in the Guardian:
“Scanning the names of the various presenters and guests highlighted in the Quilliam alert, one name in particular set off alarm bells in my mind: Yasir Qadhi.
Shaykh Qadhi is a Texas-born Sunni Muslim preacher of Indian-Pakistani origin and a graduate of the Wahhabi-dominated Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia.
Here are some highlights of his anti-Shia rants, according to Hasan:
“With regard to the Shias, really they are the most lying sect of Islam. In other words, it is a part of their religion.”
“The Shias are allowed to lie. It is their religion to lie.”
“Shism is filth … They allow prostitution … they allow lying.”
“Beware of them [the Shias] and avoid them.”
“Any Muslim that knows of their [Shia] beliefs, he should have pure anger and hatred.”
“Anyone who believes in those [Shia] beliefs is a kafir.”
Now, if these aren’t clear examples of hate speech, then I am not sure what is.
I do find it odd, in an era of such depressingly unprecedented Sunni-Shia bloodletting and internecine strife, that such a bigoted, intolerant and sectarian individual turns out to be a regular and prominent speaker on Britain’s Islam Channel.”
Qadhi on Jews:
“All of these Polish Jews which Hitler was supposedly trying to exterminate, that’s another point, by the way, Hitler never intended to mass-destroy the Jews. There are a number of books out on this written by Christians, you should read them. The Hoax of the Holocaust, I advise you to read this book and write this down, the Hoax of the Holocaust, a very good book. All of this is false propaganda and I know it sounds so far-fetched, but read it. The evidences [sic] are very strong. And they’re talking about newspaper articles, clippings, everything and look up yourself what Hitler really wanted to do. We’re not defending Hitler, by the way, but the Jews, the way that they portray him, also is not correct.”
Qadhi on women:
In a previous event of Mend, he replied to a question from the audience: “What kind of occupation would you recommend for a sister? A job that a sister could do?”
“Well the question arises, would I recommend a job for any sister? And the answer is in general, in general no. In general it’s not something that a sister should do.”
So if you stick to the sharia, you will keep your honour and dignity and liberty. And if you go beyond the sharia, this is where the wolves and the predators [men] will come and try to get you. So the general rule is that sisters should not work. They should not work because their role is as wives and mothers.
We have a job to do and that is to bring about an ummah, to bring about a generation. Men have been assigned a role in that job and women have been assigned a role. It is not fair to compare apples and oranges.
So if her husband allows her, or if she’s not married and her father wishes, her father allows her to work, she may work as long as the environment is permissible and she is doing something which she needs to do and she’s not interacting with men.
Frankly, with all due respect, I don’t see the need for women in many other fields. There are only a few fields. Like for example in engineering. As I said, I don’t see the need. We have men, they’re doing the job. We don’t need women in this field where they’re going to interact with men, where they’re going to go with them. What’s the point?
The general rule is that the best job that a mother can do is to be a good housewife and to take care of her children.
Stay at your house. Your food and drink will come to you. What more do you want? Your husband will provide for you all that you need. What more do you want? Instead of looking at it from a negative way, look at from a positive way. You take care of the small, little things of the house, you please your husband, and in return your husband will give you the far more difficult things to do, of earning money and doing this and that,” said Qadhi.