Islamic Relief’s rebuttal letter to the Times newspaper:
Your article (“Preacher who called for murder of gays invited to UK by Islamic charity”, April 11) may have given your readers the misleading impression that the Charity Commission is formally investigating Islamic Relief about its decision to host a speaking tour with Dr Yasir Qadhi. However, this could not be further from the truth – what the Commission is actually doing is asking routine questions of clarification following an enquiry by the Times.
We are disappointed and deeply concerned about aspects of Mr Kennedy’s article, which seeks to discredit an eminent and respected Muslim scholar who has become a brave and vehement opponent of violence and terrorism and an important proponent of peaceful coexistence. He is a regular visitor to the UK who speaks about the old orthodoxies, not to promote them, but to subject them to critical thinking and analysis.
Islamic Relief abhors terrorism in all its forms. As the world’s largest independent Muslim humanitarian NGO, we are committed to relieving the suffering of all people in need, regardless of their race, gender, faith or sexual orientation. It is because we adhere to these humanitarian principles and values that we are being supported by Dr Qadhi whose tour is helping us to raise funds for the East Africa crisis.
When we were first contacted by the Times concerning historical comments made by Dr Qadhi, we explained our thorough due diligence process for screening and selecting speakers. Dr Qadhi also provided detailed responses to many of the questions posed by Mr Kennedy – which, disappointingly, you chose not to feature in sufficient depth.
In today’s political climate, where there is heightened prejudice against Muslims, as well as other faiths, it is irresponsible and divisive to publish such an inflammatory and misleading article.
Imran Madden (UK Director, Islamic Relief)
An Islamic Relief spokesperson said:
“Dr Yasir Qadhi is a high-profile speaker with a large international following who has spoken out consistently against terrorism, extremism and anti-Semitism, and challenges Muslims to rethink old orthodoxies.
“Islamic Relief has invited Dr Qadhi to the UK to help the Muslim community here prepare spiritually for Ramadan, and to raise funds to fight famine in East Africa, where over 16 million people are at risk of starvation and Islamic Relief has unrivalled access in parts of Somalia and Ethiopia in particular.
“Like all our speakers, Dr Qadhi has been through a two-stage screening process that involved checking him against over 540 global watchlists of proscribed individuals and organisations to ensure no terror links, and then looking in detail at his views and track record in their full context through the lens of media coverage, YouTube videos and social media platforms.
“Islamic Relief abhors terrorism in all its forms and believes that anti-Semitism is every bit as unacceptable as Islamophobia. We work to uphold the highest humanitarian standards of neutrality, impartiality and independence, assisting people of all faiths and none without discrimination by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.”