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August 24, 2004
Met Commissioner declines to apologise over Qaradawi controversy
The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has declined an opportunity to express any remorse for the offence caused by his controversial comments expressed during last month’s visit to Britain by eminent Egyptian Islamic scholar, Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, The Muslim News has exclusively learnt.
At a meeting with the Muslim Safety Forum on Monday night, Sir John Stevens failed to apologise for making a highly partisan statement in which he said he threatened to withdraw police participation at a youth conference, where the scholar was due to speak. But he did accept that there should be more consultations with the Forum in future on sensitive issues.
Sources close to the meeting told The Muslim News that the Commissioner largely stood by why he said: “I don’t want my officers on the same stage” and that “I, for one, will not associate myself with the comments this man has made in relation to all sorts of issues.”
He insisted that he still disagreed with many of Dr. al-Qaradawi’s views and that he was right to act upon pressure from the pro-Israeli lobby, even though many of the scholar’s comments were made a long time ago. The sources also suggested that Sir John blamed the media for grossly exaggerating the affair.
The Safety Forum, which was established to protect Muslims from indiscriminate attacks prior to the events of 9/11, has been concerned about the damage caused in community relations with the police. But at the meeting, the Commissioner was said to have accepted that there should be closer collaboration with the Muslim community before press releases and statements were made and that a statement will be made on the future collaboration in a day or two.
The Metropolitan Police spokesman said they had no information on the meeting.
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