An extremist preacher banned in Pakistan but allowed into the UK has been booted from the mosque in Scotland where he was scheduled to speak.
Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri was due to speak at the Falkirk Central mosque, but after a public outcry about the imam ensued and an expose on the imam was published by the Sunday Post, mosque leaders have dumped Qadri and thanked the newspaper for alerting them to Qadri’s extremism.
“The mosque would never knowingly give a platform to views that counter our beliefs of tolerance and non-violence,” said committee member Khalid Saeed.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank The Sunday Post for raising this issue and would like to reiterate our community’s zero tolerance for hatred or violence of any kind.
“Following engagement with members and our own youth committee, Falkirk Central Mosque will ensure that progressive values are promoted and where possible will work with Police Scotland to ensure community safety.
“In addition, the mosque committee is reviewing its procedures when allowing an external booking to ensure this never happens again.”
Labelled as “firebrand” by authorities in Pakistan, Qadri was barred by officials in Karachi from preaching. He is an avid supporter of Mumtaz Qadri, who murdered his employer Salman Taseer, a popular Pakistani politician who spoke out against the country’s blasphemy laws.
After Mumtaz Qadri was executed by Pakistan for his crime, Islamist riots ensued weeks involving tens of thousands of his supporters.
(One supporter of Mumtaz Qadri in the UK, Bradford taxi driver Tanveer Ahmed, stabbed to death an Ahmadi shopkeeper Asad Shah in Glasgow for espousing his beliefs on social media, which Ahmed deemed blasphemous. The crime shocked the Scottish people.)
Whether or not the mosque was aware of the extremism of the Pakistani cleric is certainly a question. At a time when concerns of extremism are foremost in the public discourse, one would hope that speakers at mosques are vetted before invitations are extended. However, the fact remains that because of good journalism and public outcry, the invitation was cancelled.
The real question is, why was someone like Qadri allowed entrance to the UK in the first place?
When the Post questioned the Home Office about Qadri, a spokeswoman refused to answer saying that the office does not comment on individuals.
Lest one consider Qadri’s entrance merely a slip up by the Home Office, consider the following:
The Home Office recently denied entry to the UK to three prominent archbishops from the Middle East. Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, and Timothius Mousa Shamani and Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh, the archbishops of Mosul, the Nineveh valley, and Homs and Hama in Syria, respectively, were barred from attending an event inaugurating the first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in the UK.
The Home Office said that it feared the men might not leave the UK and would not have enough money to support themselves if they stayed–an absurd charge. These prominent leaders from brutal war-torn areas have clearly chosen to stay with their flocks and not run away even in the face of death.
In July, the Home Office granted entry to two extremist preachers from Pakistan, Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman, both vocal supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, for a seven-week preaching tour of mosques. Naqib was even welcomed by the archbishop of Canterbury, the highest priest in the Church of England, which comprises some 80 million Christians worldwide.
At the time, Taseer’s son Shehryar, said, "They supported and incited my father Salmaan Taseer's murder. The UK government should deport them, and Pakistan should prosecute them for the incitement of violence under the terrorism act."
While she was the home secretary, Theresa May, currently UK’s prime minister, banned controversial counter-jihad activists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from the country. (To her credit, she also banned the extremist Islamist preacher Zakir Naik.)
The home secretary has the power to deny entry to people from the UK if their presence is deemed to not be "conducive to the public good." The secretary should begin using those powers wisely.
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