Salman Farsi, the East London Mosque’s less than silver-tongued PR, has been in action after my story yesterday about the mosque’s meeting tomorrow with the homophobe Yusuf Patel of SREIslamic (the mosque’s own director will share the platform.) “Many other faith groups also hold similar views, but are not singled out in the same manner or with the same vituperative response,” he pleads.
This isn’t about a faith. It’s about a mosque. No doubt some Christians do hold homophobic views – but I am quite certain that you would never find them being openly and repeatedly expressed, with official approval, from the pulpit of, say, Southwark Cathedral, or for that matter the smallest parish church in this country. Still less would you find active hatred being incited against people on the grounds of their sexuality. The East London Mosque, Britain’s largest, is British Islam’s equivalent of Southwark Cathedral.
The other reason this mosque is being “singled out” is because it is in breach of its own specific promise to mend its ways. Less than three weeks ago, older readers will remember, the same Salman Farsi who is now justifying the Patel meeting pledged: “Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises, whether that is us organising an event or someone else.”
Just to help Mr Farsi out, here is a handy link to some YouTube video of Yusuf Patel speaking – at the East London Mosque, in fact! – in 2009. “We believe homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle,” he says. “It may be unfashionable to believe it. We may be branded extremists if we believe that homosexuality is a sin against Allah. But we believe it!”
Let’s just remind Mr Farsi of his promise again, in case he’s forgotten it in the last two paragraphs: “Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises.”
Update – Someone’s just pointed out that the mosque has managed to rope in dear old Sunny Hundal, who can always be relied on to argue for the selective application of progressive values. The response above applies equally to you, Sunny.