Mayor criticised by Peter Tatchell for speaking at ‘hate preacher’ event

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell - Credit: Archant

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has been criticised by human rights activist Peter Tatchell for speaking at a controversial Islamic conference alongside “hate preachers”.

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman - Credit: Archant

Mayor Lutfur Rahman topped the bill at the Global Peace and Unity Festival at the ExCel Centre in Newham on November 24, which has been criticised by gay rights and Muslim groups for hosting “bigoted” speakers.

Mr Tatchell said: “I am very disappointed that Mayor Rahman spoke at this event, which included speakers who have previously defended the killing of blasphemers, Muslims who reject their faith and people who have sex outside of marriage.

“These extremists should not be rewarded with a prestigious public platform and public officials should not support events that host them.”

Mr Tatchell recently criticised London Mayor Boris Johnson for his message of support for the festival quoted on its website.

A spokesman from the mayor’s office said: “Mayor Lutfur Rahman was one of many speakers from all walks of life - including politicians from political parties, senior police officers, and a judge - who attended this event.

“Government ministers have previously spoken at this event, and Mayor Rahman’s speech aimed to encourage the audience to participate in the democratic process.”

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Mr Tatchell said the government refused to send a speaker to the event and MPs who have spoken previously did not speak this year.

He said: “They don’t want to give credibility to hate preachers.”

Mr Rahman declined to comment on the criticism of some of the speakers booked for the event.

The council distanced itself from the mayor’s attendance, saying he spoke at the festival “in a personal capacity”.

A spokesman added that the council works with the police and other agencies to prevent all types of hate crime as part of its One Tower Hamlets ethos, and that this is “spear-headed” by the mayor.

Mr Tatchell has also praised the mayor’s support for LGBT Pride in east London.