Hamas at Olympia

Why I have decided to pull out of IslamExpo this weekend

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I was very uncomfortable about accepting an invitation to speak at IslamExpo this year. What appears to be a celebration of Islam is, in reality, a rally for a particular brand of Islam based on the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaat-i-Islami.

I am particularly concerned about its connections to Mohammed Sawalha, the President of the British Muslim Initiative and a supporter of Hamas. Sawalha is the holder of the domain name for IslamExpo.

The only argument for speaking at an event run by the Islamic far right is to take the debate to these people. But I accept the counter-argument that none of the government ministers and liberal journalists who have agreed to speak at IslamExpo would address a BNP rally. I was due to speak at a debate hosted by the left-wing think tank Demos, so I thought this protected me, to a degree, from this charge.

Now I learn that Sawalha is suing David T of Harry's Place blog for allegedly suggesting that he was an anti-Semite. The whole sorry business is explained here. The libel laws of this country are the last resort of the scoundrel. As David says, a member of Hamas has no reputation to defend. It is already strange enough that Hamas-UK is having such a rally in central London, but when it starts suing its critics that's a step too far.

I won't now be attending IslamExpo on Saturday.