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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Liberal Muslim Theologian Pulls Out of Tatchell Lecture After Threats

from UK Gay News
Lecture cancelled after fears for Sheikh’s safety

LONDON, March 20, 2006 – Liberal Muslim theologian Sheikh Dr Muhammad Yusuf was to have called for a reconciliation of Islam with democracy and human rights, including human rights for women and gay people in a lectures this evening (March 20) in London.

But he has been pressured to pull out of the lecture – the annual Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fundraiser (PTHRF) – at the last moment following protests and warnings by Muslim leaders.
His planned call for an “Islamic Reformation” provoked the wrath of senior Muslim figures, who warned they could not guarantee his safety if the lecture went ahead.

from Nordish Portal
"London’s notoriety as Londonistan has been given a further push today when a liberal Muslim theologian sadly decided not to speak his mind in public, after receiving serious threats by what the establishment would still call “moderate Muslims”. Sheikh Dr Muhammad Yusuf of the Interfaith Alliance was planning to make a call for an Islamic Reformation.

Click Continue .. to read more, click Nordish to read comments, click headline to go to UK Gay News. HT: The Nordish Portal


In place of Sheikh Yusuf, the guest lecture at tonight’s annual Peter Tatchell Human Rights fundraiser will be delivered by exiled Iranian feminist and human rights campaigner, Maryam Namazie. She will highlight the danger posed by to democracy and human rights by the rise of “political Islam”.

Sheikh Yusuf, a research fellow of the Inter-Faith Alliance UK and Chair of the Council of University Imams, was to have delivered a lecture Time for an Islamic Reformation in Britain in which he would have called for the development of an authentically British and European Islam.
“I deeply regret that extreme pressure from some Muslim leaders has forced Sheikh Yusuf to pull out of this evening’s fundraiser,” commented Peter Tatchell. “We were looking forward to welcoming him as an honoured guest.”

Despite Sheikh Yusuf’s absence, Mr Tatchell will use the PTHRF reception to report back on his current campaigns.

“Solidarity with gay and liberal Muslims who are resisting the threats of Islamic fundamentalists, in the UK and abroad; opposition to the government’s demonisation and persecution of asylum seekers; exposure of miscarriages of justice and support for abused prisoners; and solidarity with gay and human rights campaigners in Uganda, Iraq, Darfur, Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Nepal, Algeria, Palestine and Iran will be among the irems covered,” he said.

PTHRF spokesperson Adrian Gillan pointed out that Peter Tatchell’s human rights campaigns had now gone global.

“His successes mean he is deluged with requests for help from activists all over the world. To meet these demands, he is working 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Such a huge workload is damaging his health and is unsustainable. We need to raise enough money to get Peter a fully equipped office and full-time staff support. Tonight’s reception will help raise some of the extra funds we need,” he said.

Reverend Richard Kirker, chairman of PTHRF, added that Mr. Tatchell had an unquenchable thirst for justice, and a voracious appetite for work.

“He challenges discrimination fearlessly and helps the persecuted who – in their thousands – seek his advice and support from all parts of the world.

“Moreover, by writing, campaigning, demonstrating and lobbying, he is able to alert the wider public and media to the injustices that still blight the lives of millions. Supporting the PTHRF provides him with financial assistance that he puts entirely at the disposal of his work.

“What could be more worthwhile,” he asked?

Looking forward to Sheikh Yusuf’s lecture, Peter Tatchell had previously said that support for a liberal, progressive Islam was an urgent priority.

“It is the most effective way to counter the fundamentalist attitudes towards women and gay people that characterise many supposedly moderate, mainstream Muslim organisations.

“I hope Sheikh Yusuf’s lecture will demonstrate and encourage the possibility of an Islamic Enlightenment, whereby Muslims and non-Muslims can work together in the defence of universal social justice and human rights,” he said last week.

The PTHRF's annual reception is now a firm fixture in the U’'s socio-political and queer calendar. Past events – at the Royal Festival Hall’s People’s Palace and other prominent venues – have proved a highly enjoyable yet practical way of supporting the work of the UK’s best-known human rights campaigner, whilst allowing Peter himself the opportunity to thank his supporters in person.


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