There are reports in Pakistan today that Qazi Hussain Ahmed, an extremist cleric due to come to Britain on a speaking tour, has had his UK visa revoked by the Home Office. I can’t get confirmation from the Home Office but contacts with good sources there have said that this is indeed the case.
One of the organisers of the tour in the UK, S Hussain of the UK Islamic Mission, said he had also been told that Mr Ahmed’s visa had been cancelled. However, UKIM’s national secretary-general, Zahid Parvez, said he had not heard this. “We would be very surprised and shocked,” he said. “He has been to this country so many times, and has always talked about the need to bring people together.”
Qazi Hussain Ahmed is a former leader of Pakistan’s extremist Jamaat-e-Islami party who said he “saluted” a suicide bomber for killing five American soldiers. He met Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and in 2005 told the BBC he does not believe bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. More convincing, he says, is the theory that it was a Zionist conspiracy.
If Ahmed has indeed been banned, it is another major sign of the new government’s wish to crack down on extremist preachers after the earlier exclusion of Zakir Naik.
Update: Anas Sarwar’s assistant has been in touch to say that his employer, though listed by the UKIM as attending, is not going to the Ahmed event.
Lord Ahmed’s legal representative has also advised that Lord Ahmed did not attend the event he was billed by UKIM to speak at.