Muslim cleric banned in Pakistan attempts preaching tour of Britain
A controversial Muslim cleric who has been banned from practicing in Pakistan for allegedly celebrating the murder of a popular politician is touring UK mosques.
Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri, who has been dubbed a “firebrand” by Pakistani authorities, is due to speak at a number of British mosques in a series of heavily promoted events, despite being prohibited from speaking in his own country.
In Pakistan’s Karachi, he has been labeled “prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order.” He was banned from addressing crowds in October, according to a legal document obtained by Scotland’s Sunday Post.
Qadri’s UK visit has sparked concern from religious experts and politicians who fear the tour will cause divisions within the Muslim community.
“Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri and the likes of him should not be allowed to enter the UK or Europe because he incites hatred and he claims to be a Sufi, but the message of Sufism is love all and hate none,” Irfan al-Alawi, international director of US think-tank Centre for Islamic Pluralism, told the Observer.
“The Sunni Muslims do not need Pakistani or Indian imams to enter the UK and preach hatred,” he stressed.
Qadri has publicly praised a Pakistani policeman who shot his employer, Salman Taseer, 27 times with an AK-47 in 2011 after the popular politician spoke out against the country’s hard-line blasphemy laws. The policeman, Mumtaz Qadri, who shares the cleric’s last name, was convicted of murder.
Video footage on social media sites shows the controversial cleric telling crowds that Taseer’s killing was lawful and justified.
The assassination carried out by the fundamentalist policeman reportedly helped inspire Bradford cab driver Tanveer Ahmed, who stabbed shopkeeper Asad Shah to death. Shah was targeted for posting messages on social media, including one in which he wished his customers a “Happy Easter.”
The murder has been just one of a number of high-profile cases exposing the division between Muslim sects over what should be considered “blasphemous.”
In February, a former Sufi imam, Jalal Uddin, 71, was battered to death with a hammer in Rochdale by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) supporters who claimed the man was practicing “black magic.”
According to the Sunday Post, Quadri was first due to speak at the Falkirk Central mosque in Scotland on Thursday, December 15, but his billing was cancelled there after a public outcry.
He is currently scheduled to speak at mosques in Leicester, Woking, and Bolton.
However, the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking told the Independent: “Syed Muzaffar Shah will NOT be attending our event on 26 December.
“The Mosque was unaware of his ban in Pakistan and as soon as this was brought to our attention we cancelled his invite and will NOT have any further communication with him.”
Moreover, Qadri will not speak at the Masjid-E-Ghosia Mosque in Bolton either, according to the Bolton News. An event had been planned for Christmas Eve.
“He is definitely not coming,” Bashir Sharma of the mosque told the newspaper.
The mosque in Leicester has not yet responded to a request for comment.
When asked by the Guardian about Qadri’s visit, the Home Office said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”